Published March 05, 2004
NEW YORK – The one juror who spoke publicly Friday about how the jury made up its mind in the Martha Stewart (search) trial called the guilty verdict a victory for "the average guy."
Chappell Hartridge, a 47-year-old computer technician at an insurance company, said he hopes the verdict sends a message to corporations that "they have to abide by the rules and no one's above the law."
"Maybe it's a victory for the little guy who loses money in the markets because of these types of transactions, the people who lose money in 401(k) plans," Hartridge said.
"Maybe it might give the average guy a little more confident feeling that (he) can invest in the market and everything will be on the up and up."
Stewart was convicted Friday on four charges of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice. Her ex-stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic (search), also was found guilty in the stock scandal.
Hartridge and the other 11 jurors — four men and eight women — deliberated over three days before reaching the verdict.
"If anything, we may have taken it a little as an insult," he said. "Is that supposed to sway our opinion?"
Some of the testimony about the way she ran her business left the impression, at least on him, that she thought she was "above everyone."
He also said her background as a stockbroker worked against her because the jury believed she should have known what she was doing was illegal.
Hartridge said jurors were especially swayed by testimony from Stewart's personal assistant, Ann Armstrong.
Armstrong testified that Stewart altered the log of a message that Bacanovic left her on the day Stewart sold her Imclone stock.
The original message read: "Peter Bacanovic thinks ImClone is going to start trading downward."
Armstrong testified Stewart saw the message about a month later and replaced it with the words: "Peter Bacanovic re imclone." She later changed it back.
During the six-week trial, the jurors were referred to by numbers instead of names because the judge wanted to make sure no one discovered their identities and tried to influence them. After the verdicts were delivered, she gave them permission to speak about the deliberations.
Hartridge said it was impossible to avoid references to the case during the six-week trial. "You see it on the front pages. You see it on the subway," he said.
He said he went to work and "was threatened, `Don't come back to work if you convict her."'
"I took it as a joke," he said with a chuckle.