Monday, March 1, 2004
© Copyright 2013
Clayton News Daily
If I were one of the federal jurors in the Martha Stewart case, immediately after finding her not guilty I would go to the other end of the courthouse and file a civil suit against the government for wasting weeks of my life.
Federal prosecutors came into court with a Swiss cheese prosecution of half-baked and bribed testimony in order to try to convict the diva. In my opinion it failed and all of this investigation wasted hundreds of thousands of American tax dollars, all of which could have gone to shore up my Social Security retirement benefits in a few years.
Consider the accusers against Stewart. First, there was the weasel who toaded for the stock exchange company and then turned on his boss and Stewart. This is a man who has a high regard for the law and came willingly to do the right thing. Right? Wrong. This is a man who faced drugs charges and other crimes he bought his way out of in exchange for testifying against Stewart. His crimes were worse than those she is charged with. This is a man who said he sent hateful e-mails about Stewart because she was mean to him.
This slimy little guy is followed to the stand by a 20-year friend of Stewart's who talked to her almost every day, who vacationed with her. So she remembers totally and completely Stewart telling her she had gotten a message that she should sell her stock. Well not exactly. Now she can't remember what Stewart said. First, the conversation came over drinks, lots of drinks. Then she allows that maybe she just thought up the quote herself and Stewart never said anything. So why would a two-decade friend turn on Stewart? Now Time magazine reports that one day after Stewart sold her stock, this friend's husband unloaded his. So she troops into court to testify with the assurance her husband won't be charged.
So this interview Stewart gave federal interrogators about who called whom, and when about this sinking stock. It is a very important interview, so federal prosecutors taped it in this age of a zillion tape recorders. Well no, they didn't. Well it was so important at least they had a court stenographer take down each question and answer. Wrong. The government is now relying on notes and remembrances of what was said to charge Stewart with lying. Federal officials remember one way and others remember another.
I am not saying that next week the jury will not convict Stewart. I am saying the evidence is not there to convict. Jurors may hate her just because she is Martha. Also, a jury on any given day can do anything. The defense gambled by not putting the Christmas special diva on the stand. She cannot be forced to testify and the jury cannot draw any conclusions from this decision. Listen, I have served on two juries in my life and the defendant didn't testify in either. Immediately as we began deliberations at least one or more jurors said, "If he was so innocent and didn't have anything to hide why didn't he take the stand and defend himself?" When you go into the jury room all the rules go out the door. If you don't like the mustache the defendant has you can conclude he is guilty and convict him. No one is in there to referee. You can't appeal this because the deliberations are secret. Again I am not saying she won't be convicted. I am saying I wouldn't convict on this sorry prosecution case.
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.