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Rajat Gupta trial: Jury faces boredom test

A US judge presiding over former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta's insider trading trial has admonished the prosecution and defence lawyers for inundating the jury with telephone logs, emails and boardroom minutes as evidence

twitter-logo PTI   New York     Last Updated: May 30, 2012  | 17:56 IST

A US judge presiding over former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta's insider trading trial has admonished the prosecution and defence lawyers for inundating the jury with telephone logs, emails and boardroom minutes as evidence, saying such bulky presentation could bore them.

Gupta's trial, now into its second week, has been marked with the defence and prosecution presenting stacks of documents, including emails, minutes of boardroom meetings, telephone logs, corporate governance guidelines, trading records and stock quotes as evidence to the jury.

FULL COVERAGE:Rajat Gupta trial

Sidebars by the lawyers, when they discuss with the judge objections raised by the other side out of the jury's earshot, too have slowed down the proceedings in the trial.

US District Judge Jed Rakoff told the prosecution and defence team to "sharpen" their presentation of evidence to avoid boredom for the jurors.

"Counsels, I am in awe of our jury because they have managed to remain attentive even though the vast bulk of the day could be described as Mr Witness, I show you document X, Mr Witness, I show you document Y. Let's put it up on the screen," Rakoff told the lawyers while the jury took a mid afternoon break during Tuesday's proceedings.

Highlights of trial:Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

"The notion that the jury is going to peruse carefully several thousand documents shows a naivete," Rakoff chided.

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

The sidebars and cumbersome presentation of the various documents as evidence and use of corporate jargon by the lawyers have led some members of the jury on a few occasions to yawn, fidget and look around the courtroom.

A couple of jurors even closed their eyes, as if taking a quick nap, while the lawyers discussed certain nitty gritties in private with the judge during sidebars.

The trial started on May 21 and is expected to last three weeks.

Of the original 12 jurors selected for the trial, two have been excused by the judge because of family emergencies.

Last week juror number 12, a professor of strategic design and behaviour, was replaced by a retired librarian, who was among the four alternate jurors. The professor had to be excused due to a family emergency.

On Tuesday, a second juror was replaced by an alternate.

The juror, an executive assistant at a Manhattan hospital, told the judge he cannot continue to participate in the proceedings since she had to travel to South Carolina to visit a sister who had been injured in a car accident.

She has been replaced by a man who works as a marketing manager in New York's Rockland County.

Former McKinsey head Gupta is one of the most high profile Wall Street executives to be charged with insider trading.

However, barring a wiretap conversation between Gupta and convicted hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, the evidence presented by both sides so far has not generated much excitement in the courtroom.

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