In two months billionaire Raj Rajaratnam could lose the most important thing in his life.
Raj will end up in jail for over a decade if the jury convicts him. Raj is a billionaire, so he’d lose the only thing he doesn’t have enough of: time.
Of course he’s lose other things: his reputation would take another hit, he’d probably be fined the ~$40-$50 million he’s alleged have earning off insider trades, and the ~$40 million he’s spending on his defence would be down the drain.
But again, the man is a billionaire. He’s rumoured to basically own the Sri Lankan stock exchange (the rumour is that he owns most of the market cap). $100 million isn’t even a tenth of how much money he has.
So the big, scary thing he stands to lose is time. And it’s up to the jury, which is everything in this case.
Judge Holwell is giving a lot away about the shape of the trial in his prelimary questions to the potential Raj jurors.
In case you aren’t following the trial, the Raj trial kicked off yesterday with a thorough prepping of the potential jurors. Both the prosecution and the defence want the strongest jury possible for their case; these are the folks who will ultimately decide whether or not Raj goes to jail for anywhere from 0-20 years (if he is convicted, lawyers predict he’ll spend 12 years in prison).
Of at least a hundred people called to jury duty, only 12 will be selected for the final jury.
Jurors have been dismissed for a number of reasons. Some are prejudice about wealthy people, some read the newspaper and had preconceptions about the Raj case. One was a journalist who made an Al Sharpton joke, giving away that he’s been following the case too much too. Another owned stock in one of the companies Raj is alleged to have insider traded.
The decision to dismiss the jurors ultimately comes from the judge, but you can bet there are a number of jury consultants on both the prosecution and the defence teams who are advising the lawyers to challenge the jurors after they respond one way or another to one of the many questions they’re asked.
Jury consultants research the potential juror’s background and study their body language (among other things) to help lawyers assemble a jury that ideally, won’t be biased against them and that aren’t wild cards.
In a case as important as this one — it’s a precedent-setting and very high profile insider trading case for the prosecution, so winning means everything to them, too — everything comes down to the jury.
The big question is who are the jury consultants waiting in the wings, and what are they telling the lawyers?
We should know the final twelve of who’s on it today or tomorrow. Stay tuned!