Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2004

Stewart accuses juror of lying, asks for new trial

Jury member wasn’t truthful in questionnaire, defense lawyers say

April 1, 2004

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— Martha Stewart asked for a new trial Wednesday, saying one of the jurors who convicted her lied about an arrest on assault charges.

Stewart lawyer Robert Morvillo said in papers filed in federal court that he would have sought to strike juror Chappell Hartridge had he known about his past.

"These facts, in and of themselves, establish that Ms. Stewart is entitled to a new trial," Morvillo wrote.

The papers also accused Hartridge of seeking money for post-trial interviews. On the day of the guilty verdict, the juror said publicly that he believed the decision was "a victory for the little guys."

Federal prosecutors did not immediately return a call for comment. A telephone number for Hartridge could not immediately be found.

Stewart was convicted March 5 along with her broker, Peter Bacanovic, of obstructing justice and lying to the government about her sale of a block of stock in a biotechnology company just before the price dropped.

The homemaking authority is scheduled to be sentenced June 17. She is widely expected to get from 10 to 16 months in prison.

Stewart's lawyers said Hartridge was arrested in 1997 after a woman with whom he was living filed an assault complaint. They said Hartridge spent several days in jail before the woman withdrew her complaint because she could not miss work to attend court.

In a juror questionnaire, Hartridge claimed he had never been in court other than for a minor traffic violation, the defense lawyers said.

The defense also said that Hartridge lied on his jury questionnaire by omitting that he has been sued at least three times. It said he also lied by not disclosing that he was once accused of stealing from a Little League group.

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