Throat Clearing


Reason has obviously taken Martha Stewart's side throughout her trial. I have been having some fun at the expense of juror Chappell Hartridge and his Barton Fink routine. (By the way, have my fellow Americans even been looking at their 401ks in recent months? My IRAs are doing fine; they're almost back to where they were a few years ago, and I was invested in all dotcom funds.)

However (and this may be the result of listening to 12 hours of cable-borne talking heads trying to persuade me that the System Has Worked), I think the jury ruled pretty much appropriately. To play I The Jury for a minute: I could have found grounds for reasonable doubt on all counts, but I would have been reaching for it, or at least being selective in my evitentiary preferences. On one count where there was reasonable doubt (the one concerning the dueling pens and Bacanovic's "@60" notation), the jury acquitted.

I'd still have voted to acquit (if I'd had the balls—and no guarantee there), but that's because I believe in jury nullification. You can't reasonably expect twelve people selected for averageness to believe in it too.

For various reasons, abundantly detailed elsewhere, this was a kangaroo court. The SEC is the same cesspool it was when Joe Kennedy ran the show. The investigation was a witch hunt, and Martha Stewart had a natural right to lie to John Ashcroft's jackbooted thugs. But the jurors were just following orders, and are blameless—though Hartridge deserves mockery for his grandstanding.