Fanfare for the Common Man


New at Reason: All you big wigs smoking big cigars while you suck dry the marrow of the laboring classes, beware! Celebrity juror Chappell Hartridge, the Martha Stewart of computer technicians, has put you in your place. Elizabeth Koch wraps up the trial.

NEXT: Good-bye, Mystery Meat!

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  1. Now THIS is news, and damned bad news at that. I trust that an appellate court will toss these guilty verdicts into a well-decorated garbage bin.

  2. Your trust is probably misplaced. Appellate courts tend to uphold jury verdicts, and nothing Hartridge said thus far would automatically convince the Second Circuit otherwise. My guess is that any appeal will turn on the jury instructions and the general nature of the case.

  3. I wonder if she has any offshore bank accounts.

  4. If whatever pokey she goes to has an arts and crafts room, watch out. Give Martha a glue-gun and no prison can hold her!


  5. I’m reminded of the Rosenbergs: guilty people severely overcharged for political purposes, giving a crank faction of radicals a ready-made martyr.

  6. But the Rosenbergs really were guilty.

  7. And whether you like obstruction and making false statement laws or not, Martha broke them. She made false statements to the feds, and to a grant jury.

    You can argue that what she did shouldn’t be illegal (some people argue that what the Rosenberg’s did shouldn’t be illegal), but she did the deeds she was charged with.

    I can’t believe they’re talking jail time, though.

  8. This is so fucking depressing.

    God I need a drink. Better bulk order opiates online while I still can.

  9. Skip has it right. It’s a tough time to get a jury verdict overturned. However, our man Chappell got his 15 minutes and hopefully that’s the end of his comments although I’m sure every cable news outlet outside of Mongolia will persue him and perhaps he’ll get 30 minutes of fame.

  10. “If whatever pokey she goes to has an arts and crafts room, watch out. Give Martha a glue-gun and no prison can hold her!”

    Yeah! I can see the movie now — a chick-flick version of ‘Escape from Alcatraz,’ starring Susan Sarandon as Martha, with lots of shots of a sweaty Susan in a prison work tee-shirt.

  11. I note that Chappell Hartridge is from the Bronz. I don’t know if its still true but the Bronx used to be one of those regions that trial lawyers would try to get their cases held because the juries would reliably vote against businesses large and small

    I wonder at what point the jury pool becomes so culturally biased that it can no longer provide fair trials? This happened in the old south in racial matters. If one cold show that a particular jury pool disproportionately favored one type of plaintiff or defendant couldn’t trials in the area be nullified?

  12. Martha’s case turns on questions of law. I don’t think the facts are substantially disputed. She should have much better chances on appeal than most criminal defendants.

  13. This is the most obscene verdict since the conviction of Michael Millikin because his innovations in financing threatened sluggish, bloated, inefficient management of public companies and forced them to become efficient or get taken over.

  14. Shannon, the real problem may not be cultural bias per se, but the strong preferene of courts (and prosecutors) to select jurors ignorant of the law and business practices. At some point, the jury system was perverted from the “jury of peers” concept to a “jury of the deaf, dumb, and blind”. Hartridge’s statement was one of rank ignorance. And I suspect other members of that jury thought the same way.

    Xavier, you raise a good point that Stewart may have a better chance on appeal because this case turns on the law more than facts. And the Second Circuit is, in my judgment, a very fair and reasonable court. But I still would not place the odds of reversal at more than 50/50.

  15. > I can’t believe they’re talking jail time, though.

  16. > If one cold show that a particular jury pool disproportionately favored one type of plaintiff or defendant couldn’t trials in the area be nullified?

  17. None at my high school seem to understand the implications of this decision. The lawyers were the ones who fucked St. Martha over. It should have never gone to trial.

  18. I have a real problem with the conviction on several levels. First, the government says that she lied, but could not provide any transcription, video recording, or taped conversation of their meetings. How then does one mount a defense against that, when we do not know with precision what questions she was asked, and what her responces were, the qualifications and the nuances? The use of this law, Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code, is frightening: “The dangers for overreach here should be obvious, and comments made back in 1996 by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and recently unearthed by the New York Sun now look prophetic. “The prospect remains that an overzealous prosecutor or investigator — aware that a person has committed some suspicious acts, but unable to make a criminal case — will create a crime by surprising the subject, asking about those acts, and receiving a false denial,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in a concurring opinion in Brogan v. United States, warning against the “sweeping generality” of Section 1001’s language.”

    I am very interested to see what exactly the Prosecutors will do now that it has been revealed that Chappell Hartridge lied under penalty of perjury on his juror questionaire. Isn’t this all about the truth? Isn’t this about treating everybod the same? I doubt it. Martha deserves a new trial.

  19. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 04:44:07
    Truth is a kind and gentle lie.

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