Will Martha Stewart Testify On Stock Sale?

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Any testimony by Martha Stewart in her ongoing stock trial in New York could be one of the most anticipated moments in courtroom drama since O.J. Simpson took the stand, says the Christian Science onitor. Her lawyers will decide soon as the prosecution wraps up its case, perhaps today.

If the blond celebrity take the oath, she will try to convince the jury that the whole affair can be explained. She would try to turn on her charm and show she’s just an ordinary person, the Monitor says, “well, with a few extra recipes for duck pâté in her pocketbook.”

She may have to testify to avoid losing, when it comes to the charge of misleading the government in its investigation of ImClone stock trades. That’s because the government has been painting a picture that only Stewart herself can explain.

Taking the witness stand presents the chance to win over the jury and the risk of being trapped by a prosecutor. Many jurors will probably want to hear her side of the story. “There is a much greater pressure than most criminal trials to put her on the stand,” says Kirby Behre, a partner at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker in Washington. “You would have a fear of a backlash if she does not testify.”

Some of the issues she would have to address:

• Whether she changed a phone message from her stockbroker.

• Challenging the accuracy of an FBI agent’s handwritten notes.

• Stewart’s version of the stock-sale story.

One reason she may not testify is that the government can argue that a defendant committed perjury if she is convicted. That can be considered in the sentencing phase.

Link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0220/p02s01-usju.html

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