Fear of jury boredom seeps into Gupta insider trial

Tue May 29, 2012 6:05pm EDT
 
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By Grant McCool

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The judge in the insider-trading trial of former corporate luminary Rajat Gupta is worried the jury is in danger of becoming bored.

As the trial went into its second week on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan warned prosecutors and defense lawyers to "sharpen" their presentations.

Gupta, 63, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc board member and global head of management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, is the most prominent corporate figure indicted in the U.S. government's crackdown on insider trading. He is charged with leaking corporate secrets to now-imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted last year after a high-profile trial.

But Rakoff suggested the Gupta case may be far from scintillating for the jury, which aside from a handful of wiretap recordings, has been inundated with telephone logs, corporate governance guidelines, boardroom minutes, emails and instant messaging records.

"I am in awe of our jury for being attentive," Rakoff said in court while jurors were on their mid-afternoon break. He said the bulk of evidence was asking witnesses to look at "document X" or "document Y."

"We need to find a way to sharpen the presentation on both sides and get it more focused," said Rakoff.

The trial started on May 21 and so far the judge has excused two of the 12 jurors because of family emergencies. Their places were taken by alternate jurors. The trial could run three weeks.

Gupta, who was arrested last October, has pleaded not guilty and argues that the prosecution's evidence is circumstantial.   Continued...