AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Judge rejects proposal by Nacchio's defense team
Written questionnaire for potential jurors viewed as 'overkill'
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Friday, March 2, 2007

Joe Nacchio's attorneys were rebuffed Thursday in their request to submit their own written questionnaire to potential jurors.  U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham also said the government could prosecute its case in eight days -- rather that 12 to 15 -- based on an apparently short witness list.

The prosecution's witness list was submitted to the judge and defense privately and wasn't immediately disclosed publicly.  It will be up to the judge when to release the witness list.  Nottingham may be concerned that it will be more difficult to select an impartial jury if the witness list becomes public before then.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution commented after the short pretrial hearing, which was followed by a 90-minutes closed session dealing with classified information.

Nottingham plans to question potential jurors himself and has already sent out written questionnaires to screen out biased parties.  He said he didn't think an additionally written questionnaire from the defense was necessary.

"It's overkill, in most cases," Nottingham said, adding that most of the questions will be posed by him in open court, where attorneys will be able to observe the demeanor of a potential juror.

Jury selection is seen as a critical aspect of the case.  Earlier, Nacchio's attorneys were unsuccessful in a bid to move the trial out of state because of the publicity over the case. 

Curtis Kennedy, an attorney for the Association of U S West Retirees, attended Thursday's pretrial hearing.

Kennedy said the retirees group has passed on 12 to 20 names to the prosecution as potential witnesses.  Those are people who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars each when Qwest stock plummeted from $66 a share in March 2000 to $1.09 in August 2002.

Legal experts say that such witnesses will help drive the prosecution's point that there were victims to Nacchio's alleged crime.  After Nacchio left, Qwest erased more than $2.5 billion of revenues and profits from its 2000 and 2001 books.

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