Blind Justice


The judge in Martha Stewart's trial has told her lawyers they may not point out the weirdness of the charges against her.

As Michael McMenamin noted in the October issue of Reason, the "securities fraud" charge against Stewart is "based on the fact that she denied to the press, personally and through her lawyers, that she had engaged in insider trading….In other words, her crime is claiming to be innocent of a crime with which she was never charged."

The Justice Department does allege insider trading in a related civil suit. But as McMenamin observed, "Before suing Stewart, the SEC had never gone after the customer of a broker who offered his knowledge of what another customer had done as a reason to make a trade."

Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum has ruled that such points are matters of law beyond the purview of the jury, which must stick to the facts of the case. Apparently, those do not include whether Stewart did anything she had reason to know would be considered a crime.