Martha Jury Selection Off and Running

01/06/2004 01:00PM

The initial round of jury selection in the trial of Martha Stewart begins in federal court in Manhattan Tuesday, with hundreds potential jurors being asked about conflicts of interest in what is the highest profile corporate fraud case in years.

As Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reports, lawyers for the domestic diva, 62, will have the potential jurors fill out a lengthy questionnaire to determine which 12 of them will be allowed to sit on the case.

According to Reuters, the questionnaire also was designed by prosecutors against Stewart and approved by U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who is presiding.

On Wednesday, a review of the questionnaires is set to begin, and both sides have until Jan. 12 to tell the court which jurors they want removed for case.

Judge Cedarbaum will not release the questionnaire to the public, her clerk tells Reuters. Cedarbaum also said that members of the press couldn't interview, speak to, or have any contact with jurors -- both the prospective ones and the final choices.

Stewart is due to appear in court for the first time on Jan. 20 when those jurors still in the running will be called into the courtroom and interviewed by both sides.

Once a jury is selected, the case is expected to last for six weeks. Stewart, who maintains her innocence, faces criminal charges stemming from her Dec. 27, 2001 sale of 3,928 shares of the biotech company ImClone Systems Inc., run by her friend Samuel Waksal.

The sale came one day before ImClone said health regulators had rejected a key drug application, sending its shares plummeting.

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