Since Roomy Khan was identified in the press last week as the “Cooperating Witness” in the Raj Rajaratnam insider trading complaint, her history of being sometimes loose with the truth has come under scrutiny.
When Khan takes the stand, her credibility will play a major role in the trial. But while the stories examining the details of her past are interesting and can give insight into her personality, the rules of evidence control which stories the jury will and will not hear.
It’s so far been revealed that Khan was convicted of wire fraud in 2001, was sued by her housekeeper — a case in which the judge suggested she fabricated evidence, and failed to pay on a promissory note to Deutche Bank.
We spoke to University of Texas law professor and evidence expert Guy Wellborn about what is likely to be let in.
- The wire fraud conviction: In. Khan, then an Intel employee, mailed non-public documents, including Intel sales figures, to an unidentified employee at Galleon. This one is a “no brainer,” Wellborn said. It’s a crime involving a false statement, which is something courts and the rules of evidence consider relevant when a jury is evaluating the truthfulness of a witness.
- The housekeeper lawsuit: Probably not. Khans’ former housekeeper sued Khan and her husband alleging underpayment. In denying the couple’s motion to dismiss the suit, the judge stated that it appeared the Khans had fabricated evidence. Though presenting false evidence to a court may indicate a character for untruthfulness, the judge’s opinion probably will not make it in to evidence. defence attorneys will certainly ask about the judge’s statement on cross-examination, but Khan’s answer will be the last word. If she says “Yes, the judge said that and yes, we fabricated evidence,” the jury will of course take that under advisement. But even if she lies and says there was no such statement, that’s it. Extrinsic evidence is not admissible in that situation. If, however, Khan says she can’t remember or waffles on her answer, defence attorneys may be able to use the document to “refresh her recollection” – the legal parlance for showing the witness something to remind them of a past event.
- Deutche Bank lawsuit: Not in. The Khans were sued in New York in 2005 by the bank for non-payment on a promissory note. Wellborn notes this sounds like nothing but a payment dispute, and bringing it up would likely be ruled improper, even on cross. If there is some reason to indicate the lawsuit involved specific deceptions, defence attorneys may ask about it on cross-examination, but again, it will just be the question and not admission of the lawsuit into evidence.
All of these projections are of course subject to what exactly happens in the case, the specific details of the lawsuits and and any new details that emerge.
No matter what, save potential testimony of Rajaratnam himself, the cross-examination of Roomy Khan is likely to be the most watched part of the trial.
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