By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Attorneys for convicted financier R. Allen Stanford asked for a new trial, claiming the original proceeding was unfair.
A federal court jury in Houston, Texas, on March 6 decided Stanford, who turns 62 on Saturday, was guilty of 13 criminal counts including wire fraud, mail fraud and obstruction of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
Stanford’s attorneys say they didn’t have enough time to prepare for trial because of the several months their client spent in a North Carolina prison medical facility.
And in their 71-page filing with U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who presided over the case, they insist that pretrial publicity tainted the jury and that publicity during the trial – including media news bulletins on Twitter sent from the courtroom – continued the problem.
“This court failed to sequester the jury and permitted the news media to occupy the courtroom during trial and permitted the media to ‘tweet’ throughout the trial,” Stanford said in a filing late Wednesday, referring to Twitter Inc.’s platform for disseminating 140-character messages via the Internet.
The onetime Caribbean banking tycoon was found guilty of conducting a $7.2 billion investment fraud through his Antiguan bank, Stanford International Bank Ltd.
The motion points out that news media were allowed to hear conferences between lawyers and the judge outside the presence of a jury and broadcast details on Twitter, resulting in “an instantaneous dissemination of information, to which (jurors) had not been exposed.”
Attorney Ali Fazel notes that Hittner never told the jury to stay off Twitter, “despite his knowledge of the media tweets that were taking place throughout the five-week trial.”
Despite the defense theory about Twitter information reaching a juror, the motion does not contain specific evidence that occurred.
Stanford is scheduled to be sentenced June 14.