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Martha loses bid for new trial
Judge rejects appeal seeking new trial due to juror's background of legal problems.
May 5, 2004: 2:24 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A federal judge Wednesday rejected Martha Stewart's motion for a new trial, saying a juror's failure to disclose his arrest record was not sufficient to throw out the convictions.

The decision comes two months after Stewart was convicted on four counts of lying about her well-timed sale of stock in a company run by a friend.

In asking for a new trial, lawyers for the former CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO: Research, Estimates) said a juror had lied about legal problems in his background to get on the jury.

But Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum rejected the motion.

In her 23-page decision, the judge said allegations that the juror concealed a previous arrest on charges of assault does not justify granting a new trial, noting "every defendant 'is entitled to a fair trial, but not a perfect one, for there are no perfect trials.'"

The juror, Chappelle Hartridge, told reporters after the trial that Stewart's conviction was "a victory for the little guys who lose money in the market because of these kinds of transactions."

Stewart's lawyers argued in their appeal that his background and statements following the trial was proof of a "clear class bias on his part," against Stewart and her co-defendant, former Merrill Lynch stock broker Peter Bacanovic.

Read the documents
Judge Cedarbaum's denial
Martha Stewart's indictment

Stewart's lawyer said he disagreed with the ruling.

"We intend to raise on appeal all of the errors we believe deprived Martha Stewart of a fair trial, and we remain confident that we will prevail," the lawyer, Robert Morvillo, said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Stewart, whose tips about gracious living helped her build her media and home decorating empire, was convicted on March 5 of lying to investigators about her sale of ImClone Systems stock in December 2001, the day before damaging information about the company's key drug became public.

She maintained she sold her shares due to a pre-existing arrangement with Bacanovic to sell at a set price.

But Bacanovic's former assistant testified he told Stewart that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was trying to sell ImClone shares the same day. Stewart and Waksal were friends who shared the same broker.

Stewart is scheduled to be sentenced June 17, and faces up to 5 years and 250,000 in fines for each of the four counts on which she was convicted.

Justice and Rights
Martha Stewart

Federal sentencing guidelines suggest she faces a term of between one to two years if her appeals are not ultimately successful. She remains free on bail awaiting sentencing.

Bacanovic's lawyers have also filed an appeal alleging juror misconduct.

They cited a statement from a juror after the trial that jury members discussed press reports of the trial, including the account of what Stewart paid for her lawyer and her handbag. Jurors had been instructed not to read press accounts of the trial while it was underway.  Top of page

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