Risk Management

Tyco Lawyer’s Trial Delayed

Prosecutors expressed concerns that the jury pool would be tainted with people who have ''hopes of getting on TV.''
Stephen TaubApril 8, 2004

The trial of Mark Belnick, former general counsel of Tyco International Ltd, has been postponed for two weeks, according to Reuters.

Prosecutors had sought a delay until late May, reported the wire service, because of worries that the jury pool would be tainted. They were concerned that the “phenomenal” amount of press coverage given to the trial of former chief executive officer Dennis Kozlowski and former chief financial officer Mark Swartz might attract jurors with “hopes of getting on TV.”

The latest Tyco juror to meet the press is certainly the most talked-about, if not always by name. Ruth B. Jordan — Juror No. 4 — granted an interview to Dan Rather on behalf of The New York Times and the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes II. Asked by Rather how it felt to be selected for the jury, Jordan replied, “I don’t believe this. I never win anything.” Added Jordan, “This was sort of like winning a privilege, winning something that was going to be an opportunity to make a mark, to help, to do something, you know, to have an effect.”

Jordan also maintained that the prosecution’s portrayal of Kozlowski’s and Swartz’s ostentatious spending was beside the point; that the case was loaded with “endless, endless piles of evidence that I think just drowned the jurors”; that the prosecution didn’t prove, at least to her, that the defendants had the intent to commit any crime; and that had a mistrial not been declared, she would have ultimately found the defendants not guilty on all 32 counts.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus, who presided over the trial of Kozlowski and Swartz and who will also hear the case against Belnick, stated that publicity surrounding the Tyco cases would probably not subside, according to Reuters. “As much as I would like it to be otherwise…I don’t think there will be any difference in the amount of publicity and the difficulty it could cause in picking a jury,” he said.

Nonetheless the judge agreed to postpone the trial, scheduled to begin next Monday, until April 26. Opening arguments will probably begin during the first week of May.