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The Prejudice of Wealth

Barry Tarlow's latest RICO Report (my favorite segment of The Champion) is publicly available.  He highlights the problem wealth creates in a criminal trial.

Post-trial interviews of juries and focus group studies consistently remind us of information we already knew: jurors are appalled, and frequently alienated, by evidence of a defendant’s indulgent lifestyle or conspicuous consumption. After serving on the jury that convicted Martha Stewart of lying to investigators about arrangements with her stock broker, Chappell Hartridge no doubt had evidence of Stewart’s six homes and substantial wealth in mind when he declared his jury’s verdict was “a victory for the little guy who loses money in the markets because of these types of transactions.” Constance L. Hays, Martha Stewart Seeks New Trial, Saying Juror Lied, N.Y. Times, Apr. 1, 2004.

Although I agree with Mr. Tarlow that wealth should not prejudice a jury, I take great solace in knowing that the wealthy at least have the resources to retain lawyers of his caliber.  I imagine having someone like Barry Tarlow or John Keker representing me at trial - prejudice against my wealth notwithstanding - would be superior to being stuck with a randomly-assigned PD.  [Note: No nasty emails from PD's, please.  I carefully crafted my post to say randomly-assigned.  If you can't catch that distinction, then you are most likely a pretty terrible lawyer.]