Martin Shkreli was found guilty on two counts of securities fraud earlier this month, but the process of selecting a jury for the case against the former pharmaceutical CEO and hedge fund founder appeared to be as lively as the trial itself.
Some of the 200 potential jurors apparently did not hold back their views toward Shkreli during court interviews held over the course of three days in June. Their court interviews were compiled by Harper’s Magazine ahead of its September issue.
“I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him,” Juror No. 1 said. “I think he’s a greedy little man.”
When asked by the court if the juror agreed that jurors were obligated to “decide the case based only on the evidence,” Juror No. 1 responded with: “I don’t know if I could. I wouldn’t want me on this jury.”
“He’s the most hated man in America,” Juror No. 47 said. “In my opinion, he equates with Bernie Madoff … My parents are in their eighties. They’re struggling to pay for their medication. My mother was telling me yesterday how my father’s cancer drug is $US9,000 a month,” the person claimed.
The court, emphasising that the case would have to be considered with “an open mind,” dismissed Juror No. 47, who said, “I would find that difficult.
“When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was,” Juror No. 52 said. “I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.”
Benjamin Brafman, Shkreli’s attorney, quipped, “So much for the presumption of innocence.”
“From everything I’ve seen on the news, everything I’ve read, I believe the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America,” Juror No. 77 said.
“We would object,” Brafman responded.
“You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty,” Juror No. 77 continued.
“I heard he bought an album from the Wu-Tang Clan for a million dollars,” Juror No. 144 said, referring to an exclusive single-copy album the hip-hop group released. Shkreli paid $US2 million for the record in 2016.
“The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind,” said the court. “Can you do that?”
“I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick,” Juror No. 144 responded.
Juror No. 59, after being called upon to address the court, came out of the gates storming: “Your Honour, totally he is guilty and in no way can I let him slide out of anything because — ” Juror No. 59 began, before being cut off.
“OK,” the court interjected. “Is that your attitude toward anyone charged with a crime who has not been proven guilty?”
“It’s my attitude toward his entire demeanour, what he has done to people,” Juror No. 59 responded.
“All right,” the court said. “We are going to excuse you, sir.”
But Juror No. 59 wasn’t done: “And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.”