NEW YORK – Martha Stewart (search) must keep wearing her electronic bracelet and abide by home confinement rules despite complaints the terms were hurting her efforts to revive her namesake company and work on new television projects, a federal judge ruled on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum also denied Stewart's arguments that she should get a new sentence because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January that held that federal sentencing guidelines are to be advisory rather than mandatory. The judge said the highest court's ruling would not change her decision in Stewart's case.
The judge said she would have imposed the same five-month prison term even if the guidelines would have been advisory at the time of sentencing. Cedarbaum had also ordered Stewart to serve five months of home confinement, which she began upon release from prison last month.
The sentence was the minimum under the guidelines.
"In my opinion, the sentence I imposed was particularly needed to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law and to provide just punishment," Cedarbaum said.
Last month, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals (search) sent the sentencing portion of Stewart's case back to Cedarbaum to determine if a change was needed. Such orders have become routine in federal cases after the Supreme Court ruling.
Stewart's lawyers had also written to Cedarbaum earlier this month asking that the terms of her home confinement be relaxed, contending that her confinement was hurting efforts to revive her namesake company.
They asked that Stewart be permitted to remove an electronic monitoring bracelet and that she be allowed to be away from her suburban New York estate for up to 80 hours a week — 48 hours a week is currently allowed — and to be able to go on overnight business trips for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO).
Omnimedia's chief executive, Susan Lyne, said in a separate letter to the judge that Stewart needs more time outside her home to work on two new television shows and to meet with big advertisers who pulled their business from the company's magazines during her legal travails.
Stewart is set to star in two new television shows — a daytime lifestyle TV program and a spin-off of the popular Donald Trump reality show "The Apprentice."
However, the judge refused to modify the terms of the home confinement.
"Home detention is imposed as an alternative to imprisonment. It is designed to be confining," Cedarbaum said.
The judge said that the reason for Stewart's application for modifications is that the conditions made it "inconvenient" for her to perform certain business arrangements that she made after she was sentenced.
Cedarbaum pointed out that the arrangements were made when she and those with whom she had agreements were aware of the terms of the celebrity homemaker's home confinement.
"Neither she nor they had any right to expect that those business arrangement would persuade me that the conditions of home confinement or the term of supervised release should be changed," the judge said. "The argument is circular, to say the least."
Stewart was convicted last year of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice for lying about a stock trade. She has appealed the conviction to the Second Circuit, which heard arguments in the case last month. The three-member panel has not yet issued a ruling.