Prosecutors Oppose Martha's Retrial Bid

updated 04/08/2004 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/08/2004 1:29PM

Prosecutors hope to dismiss Martha Stewart's "desperate" bid for a retrial by discrediting attempts by the domestic diva's lawyers to dredge up damaging details about a juror's past.

In a 24-page legal brief filed this week in Manhattan Federal Court, prosecutors told Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum that the allegations against juror Chappell Hartridge were not enough to require a court hearing, much less a new trial, according to published reports.

Stewart, 62, was convicted last month of lying to federal stock-fraud investigators about her sale of ImClone biotech shares, just before they plunged pending an about-to-be released FDA report. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 17 and faces up to 16 months in prison.

Last week, attorneys for Stewart asked for a new trial, saying Hartridge failed to disclose a 1997 arrest on assault charges (for reportedly beating a girlfriend), as well as three lawsuits filed against him and an accusation that he embezzled money from a Bronx Little League baseball group.

After Stewart's conviction, Hartridge was the first to appear for TV camera crews outside the courtroom, pronouncing the jury's verdicts a "victory for the little guy."

Prosecutors say the allegations raised by Stewart are not supported by enough evidence for a "reasonable inference" that Hartridge had intentionally withheld any information about himself before serving on the jury.

"It is quite revealing that Stewart would go to such desperate lengths to discredit a juror ... without any documentary evidence," wrote prosecutors, according to New York's Daily News.

They say Hartidge's arrest was dismissed and sealed in state court, making it possible that Hartridge did not believe he was supposed to disclose it. They also noted that Stewart did not try to exclude 15 prospective jurors who admitted past charges.

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