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5/6/2004

Judge won’t give Martha new trial

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A federal judge Wednesday turned down Martha Stewart’s motion for a second trial based on allegations that a juror lied about his arrest record on a questionnaire.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum came precisely two months after Stewart and broker Peter Bacanovic were convicted of lying to authorities about Stewart’s sale of ImClone Systems stock.

Stewart claimed her right to a fair trial was compromised when juror Chappell Hartridge had failed to disclose a prior arrest in a domestic dispute on his questionnaire.

Stewart lawyer Robert Morvillo claimed he would have struck Hartridge from the jury had he known the information during the jury selection process. Hartridge has not spoken publicly about the matter.

“Defendants have failed to demonstrate that Hartridge’s purported nondisclosures justify vacating their convictions and granting a new trial,” Cedarbaum wrote.

In a statement, Morvillo and John J. Tigue, another Stewart lawyer, said they disagreed with the ruling.

“We regret that a case about false statements was decided by a juror who appears to have made many false statements in an effort to gain access to the Stewart jury,” the lawyers said. An appeal was planned.

A spokesman for federal prosecutors had no comment.

In a juror questionnaire, the defense had said, Hartridge claimed he had never been in court other than for a traffic violation.

Morvillo wrote that Hartridge “dishonestly suppressed information concerning a gender-related incident ... to be able to sit in judgment of a well-known and highly successful woman.”

The juror also allegedly failed to disclose on his jury questionnaire that he had been sued three times. The defense filing said civil judgments had been entered against him in each case.