For Wall Street’s biggest trial, it was a quiet morning at the Brooklyn federal courthouse (image of the riveting scene shown here).
You’d think the only criminal prosecution of the financial crisis would have protesters with torches and pitch forks, hoards of media clamoring for a shot, and politicians eager to go on the record denouncing greed.
There was none of it.
The defendants, ex-Bear Stearns hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, quietly waited outside the courtroom of Judge Frederic Block, talking with their lawyers. Tannin sipped coffee. Their wives were close by. Both could face 20 years in prison, but neither was outwardly nervous, occasionally cracking a smile while conferring with their legal team. Confident and sharply dressed, there was no shriveling from the less than 20 people who were there to watch, nearly all reporters or lawyers.
Despite the quiet start, the jury selection process showed how the financial crisis could impact the trial. One juror was excused because they had invested in Bear — and lost of lot of money. (How steamed do you think that prospective juror was that they didn’t get a chance at revenge?)
The defence also objected to one man who claimed to have lost $60,000 in bonds and a mortgage; another said he might not be able to be objective because of media coverage of Wall Street.
“It’s hard to avoid media coverage,” said Judge Block, 75, pointing out the obvious. “It’s everywhere.”
Prospective jurors included a Jamaican woman employed as a home attendant for the elderly; a Vietnamese woman from Queens who works for the Social Security administration; and a Ukrainian man who programs computers.
Cioffi and Tannin will have to wait and see who gets picked — and just how angry they are.
For now, it’s looking pretty tame. Here’s how public rage played out this morning in Brooklyn:
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