Risk Management

Press Ask Quattrone Judge to Ease Off

News organizations aren't insisting that they will or they won't identify jurors, but they maintain it should be their call.
Dave CookApril 15, 2004

On Tuesday, the judge in the retrial of former investment banker Frank Quattrone ordered news organizations not to reveal the names of jurors during the trial. Yesterday, eight organizations asked him to reconsider.

When The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post set aside that long-observed practice by identifying Juror No. 4 in the Tyco case that ended last month, many observers suggested that publishing her name contributed to the mistrial. The juror, later widely identified as Ruth Jordan, told the trial judge that she received threats after the disclosure.

U.S. District Judge Richard Owen, who also presided over Quattrone’s first trial, undoubtedly had this in mind when he handed down the order. In response, reported the Associated Press, a letter delivered by the news organizations to Owen argued that his order violates the First Amendment.

“Nothing has occurred to date in this case to suggest that extraordinary measures are needed to prevent publication of the names of prospective jurors,” wrote lawyer David Schulz in the letter, according to the AP.

The wire service said that it was joined in the motion by The New York Times, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., Forbes, NBC, Reuters, and the San Jose Mercury News. On Wednesday, during the second day of jury selection, Judge Owen did not address the letter in open court, added the AP.

Quattrone once ran Credit Suisse First Boston’s California-based global technology group, in which he secured high-flying tech IPOs like those of Amazon.com and Netscape Communications Corp. for his employer. Federal prosecutors arrested the former investment banker almost a year ago, charging him with obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

At the heart of the obstruction-of-justice charge was an e-mail Quattrone sent during a December 2000 investigation that reportedly encouraged his subordinates to “clean up” their files. Prosecutors claim that he learned two days before the December 5 message that a federal grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission had asked for documents in those files.

Hundreds of computer files stored in directories related to IPOs underwritten by CSFB were deleted during the period in question, according to a Reuters account of the complaint.

On Quattrone’s first go-round in court, Judge Owen declared a mistrial last October when jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. According to Bloomberg, the six-man, five-woman jury was split 8-3 for conviction on count 1, obstructing a federal grand jury investigation, and count 3, witness tampering. The vote on count 2, obstructing an investigation by the SEC, was 6-5 for acquittal, added the wire service.

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