NEW YORK -- The news media should have been given access to jury selection in Martha Stewart's securities fraud trial, a federal appeals panel ruled yesterday.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum erred in refusing the media access to the individual questioning of potential jurors. "We do not see anything in the district court's findings, other than perhaps the degree of media coverage, that differentiates this case from any other high-profile prosecution," the appeals court wrote. "The mere fact that the suit has been the subject of intense media coverage is not, however, sufficient to justify closure."Seventeen media organizations had argued that high public interest should not close jury selection.Cedarbaum ruled that the case was unusual because spectacular pretrial publicity led the public to form opinions about Stewart's guilt or innocence.