Inside the courtroom: Martin Shkreli’s trial is still not underway because ‘over 300’ jurors have been dismissed
We watched today as yet more jurors were excused
UPDATE: Jury selection finished Wednesday, and the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements, portraying Shkreli in two completely opposite lights.
The defense talked about how Shkreli was “strange,” but “every single government witness will concur that Martin Shkreli, despite his flaws and his personality, is brilliant beyond words.”
The prosecution, on the other hand, referred to Shkreli as “a con man,” saying that he was able to defraud investors by convincing them that he “was a Wall Street genius.”
Martin Shkreli has been called “the most hated man in America.” Regardless of race, gender, or political party, nearly everyone thinks Shkreli is an awful person. He initially made news in 2015 when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired the live-saving HIV drug Daraprim and raised the price of a dose from $13.50 to a whopping $750 overnight – a 5556 percent price increase.
That alone was enough to make most people despise Shkreli, and one would assume he would want to lay low to dodge all the negative attention. Nope. Since then, he’s remained in the limelight for a lot of exceedingly stupid reasons.
He bought the only copy of the new Wu Tang album, “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,” for $2 million, and he agreed to not release the album for 88 years. Nonetheless, after Trump was elected in November, Shkreli leaked tracks from the album online, igniting a feud with Ghostface Killah.
While being interviewed by CBS about the death of Harambe, Shkreli crossed himself on live television before going on a three-and-a-half minute rant about why Harambe is so important to him.
He even managed to get his Twitter account banned permanently, and if you’re on Twitter, you know how difficult that is to do.
Today marked the third day of Shkreli’s trial.
He has been charged with eight felonies all related to securities and wires fraud, and he has pleaded not guilty. Shkreli apparently used his biotech company Retrophin to create what federal prosecutors allege is a “Ponzi-like” scheme to continue taking money from investors after his hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, suffered massive losses.
However, the trial is yet to truly begin because it has proved impossible to find an impartial jury. Early reports Monday indicated that over 120 jurors had already been dismissed, but a courtroom employee today told me he thinks that by the end of Tuesday, that number was closer to 300.
Today, the search for a jury continues, and Judge Kiyo Matsumoto addressed 40 potential jurors at 9 o’clock this morning. She said that jury selection will “hopefully” finish today, and other courtroom employees said they don’t expect the trial to actually begin until tomorrow. Judge Matsumoto is aware of how painfully long the process could be, telling the potential jurors that “at times, this will be tedious” and that they need to “bear with [her].”
Judge Matsumoto asked the 40 potential jurors two questions this morning: had they heard or read anything about this trial in the news that could prevent them for making an impartial decision and if being on the jury for six weeks every day from 9 AM until 5:30 PM would be more burdensome for them than other people. She told the potential jurors to raise their hands if they answered “yes” to either of those questions. Almost, if not all, raised their hands. She then talked to every juror who raised their hand and began dismissing them.
“No one has even gotten to the fourth question,” an attorney sitting next to me said.
Once Shkreli’s trial actually begins, I’m sure it will be enthralling, but the struggle to find an impartial jury continues. One can only feel for the courtroom employees who have to sit in silence while watching juror after juror get excused for three consecutive workdays.