Jury selection for Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading trial got under way today. And there were probably two highlights.One came earlier this morning, when Juror #13 disclosed she holidays with hedge fund titan David Tepper.
The second came this afternoon.
Judge Holwell asked potential jurors if they, or any family members or friends were involved with lobby groups or political organisations, which might impact their ability to be impartial.
The jurors who felt they had something to disclose, raised their hand, and Judge Holwell motioned for a man to speak.
A loud booming voice came over the speakers, and declared “I have a 30 year friendship with Reverend Al Sharpton,” and then proclaimed he was a broadcast and newspaper reporter who has worked in New York for many years, and who has friends in certain political organisations who “take certain views,” and… Well it appeared, he had a long list of connections and would continue enunciating each one until he was stopped.
We all knew what was coming. So did the judge.
Holwell said, “Why don’t you come up — I’m going to ask you some more questions.” And the courtroom burst into laughter.
And the potential juror said, “As long as I can leave!” And there was more laughter.
After five minutes, the prosecutors made their way back to their seats and a shuffle was heard over the speakers.
“Excused!” Holwell declared. And everyone laughed again. “Big surprise of the day,” he joked.
A woman — potential juror #15 — was later excused too, after some serious time spent at the sidebar, due to some connection she or a family member or friend has to being charged with a crime.