The Martha Stewart Trial

Key Details of the trial

Martha Stewart, a renowned TV personality, author and magazine publisher as well as a businessperson who lived an exemplary life before being convicted in 2003. Her case involved charges of obstruction of justice and fraud of securities against her by the government. This forced her to go trial in the month of January 2004 (Kellman, 2004, p.1).

During this time, she stepped down in most of the offices and duties that had been accorded to her before her conviction. This section of the paper will be an in-depth analysis of the key details of the trial as well as look at the verdict and appeals if any.

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The trial, which lasted for a period of six and one-half weeks having begun on 20 January 2004, consisted of a jury of four men and about eight women who were responsible for convicting Martha Stewart for the charges made against her. During the trial, Martha Stewart was represented by one experienced defense attorney by the name Robert Morvillo. The lead prosecutor of the case was Attorney Karen Patton who was then, the head of the criminal division.

In addition to these, were the witnesses of the case who included, Mariana Pasternak, Faneuil, and Armstrong (Kellman, 2004, p.1). These witnesses testified against Stewart and her financial consultant Bacanovic. One of the witnesses, Faneuil claimed that Bacanovic had on several occasions, demanded him to cover up the whole issue of the sale of shares.

In the first place, Martha was accused of making statements that were false, to the federal government among other charges of justice obstruction. Secondly, Martha Stewart was also charged with other cases of fraud including those of trade securities. In the trial, the prosecutors of the case brought to the attention of the court that Martha Stewart did not cooperate in the case and instead barred the investigation of the government, specifically in her firm ImClone Systems.

This business, which, had been founded and managed by Samuel Waksal, dealt with the production of drugs. Among its major drugs was Erbitux, a drug used to treat cancer yet the Food and Drug Administration was not to approve it (Kellman, 2004, p.1).

This meant collapse of the business since this company entirely relied on this drug. As such, Waksal and Martha Stewart decided to sell their shares while lying to the government agents. The court noted that the sale of the shares by the two parties was a decision by both since it was realized that the two had communicated before the sale.

From the findings of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it was clearly indicated that both Waksal and Stewart purported to sell the shares of the ImClone Company on a timely basis (Kellman, 2004, p.1). Despite all the allegations, Stewart informed the court that she purported to sell her shares when she realized that the stocks of Waksal were plunging. She noted, “Isn’t it nice to have brokers who tell you those things?” (Kellman, 2004, p.1).

Final charges and the verdict

As mentioned earlier, Martha Stewart was convicted alongside Peter Bacanovic who was her financial consultant. The judge during this trial was Miriam Goldman who after listening to the hearings of the case made a ruling in which Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison and another five months in home detention.

In addition to this, Stewart was fined thirty thousand dollars and a further supervised release of nineteen months after her confinement. After this ruling, Stewart decided to appeal, and was released on bail pending the appeal.

Nevertheless, Stewart decided to proceed with her prion sentence in which she served in prison for nineteen months. Her service was in the Alderson Federal Prison Camp, which is located in West Virginia although she had denied the prison given its remoteness, which made it difficult for her mother to visit (Meier, 2004, p.1). However, the U.S Department of Justice denied her claims saying that other prisons would make it easier for the media to have access to her.

The verdict of the judge came about three months after the trial had begun following an investigation that had ran for a period of two years. While Stewart was convicted with the aforementioned charges, Bacanovic was only convicted with one charge, that of making a false statement. Nevertheless, the trial judge dismissed the charges of the securities fraud that had been made against Martha Stewart.

Details of the appeal

Once the ruling of the case was made, Martha Stewart through her lawyers noted that she would make an appeal on the same (Ackman, 2004, p.1). This is what she exactly said, “I am obviously distressed by the jury’s verdict, but I continue to take comfort in knowing that I have the confidence and enduring support of my family and friends. I will appeal the verdict and continue to fight to clear my name. I believe in the fairness of the judicial system and remain confident that I will ultimately prevail” (Ackman, 2004, p.1).

After saying this, Martha did not have any additional comments to make in the court. A legal advisor of the Clinton White House known as Walter Dellinger took upon the appeals of Martha Stewart. Walter Dellinger was an appellate expert as well as a former solicitor general. In this specific case, Walter took over from the leader of the defense team Bob Morvillo, to precede the case to the next stage. When Martha Stewart first made her appeal, it was rejected by the U.S Court of Appeals.

They did the same in the second circuit of her appeal. In the appeal, Martha Stewart claimed that she had been a victim of a trial that was unfair. Her lawyers emphasized the fact that the trial was ‘fundamentally unfair’ arguing that the prosecutors had wrongly accused Martha Stewart of insider trading (Schwartz, 2004, p.1). The appeals of Martha Stewart were brief and concise, made public and indicated that the jury ought to have understood the difference between deceiving and insider trading of securities.

The leader of the appeal, Dellinger, requested that a new trial be done on the same case by forwarding his request to the Department of Probation. In fact, Dellinger argued that the trial judge was not in any case reasonable and the court ought to hold any sentence pending the appeal. Despite the fact that most of the statements made by the witnesses of the case were allowed to stand, Dellinger still decided to move ahead and dispute the facts alleged against his client.

Following the appeals, Martha Stewart was released in March 2005 since she had won in the appeals (Schwartz, 2004, p.1). It is important to note that the conviction of Martha Stewart had significant impact on her image, given the fact that she had much publicity through her career as a TV personality and an author of famous magazines.

Reference List

Ackman, D. (2004). Martha Stewart Found Guilty. Forbes.Com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2004/03/05/cx_da_0305marthafinal.html

Kellman, S. (2004). Martha Stewart Convicted. Salem Press. Retrieved from http://salempress.com/store/samples/great_events_from_history_scandals/gefh_scandals_martha.htm

Meier, B. (2004). Martha Stewart Assigned to Prison in West Virginia. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E5D81538F933A0575AC0A9629C8B63

Schwartz, J. (2004). Stewart: Appeal Claims She was Victim of Unfair Trial. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2004/10/21/1021autofacescan04.html