Updated from 1:32 p.m. EDT
Martha Stewart's request for a new trial was denied by a federal judge Thursday, clearing the way for the domestic diva's sentencing next week on her conspiracy and obstruction of justice conviction.
Stewart's lawyers had requested a new trial on the grounds that a U.S. Secret Service laboratory director lied while testifying as an expert witness during the trial. The testimony involved ink on a worksheet kept by Martha Stewart's stockbroker.
Sentencing is scheduled for the morning of Friday, July 16.
Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum had previously refused the Stewart legal team's motion for a new trial based upon the false statements of juror Chappell Hartridge during jury qualification.
Robert Morvillo, Martha Stewart's attorney, released a statement saying they were very disappointed that Judge Cedarbaum rejected the request without holding a hearing.
"We continue to believe that the unprecedented double perjury -- by both a key government witness and a juror -- prevented Martha Stewart from receiving a fair trial," said Morvillo. "We intend to raise these and other substantive issues on appeal and are hopeful that justice will eventually be done."
Legal observers asked to comment on the development confirmed the defense team's maneuvering is far from over.
Christopher Bebel, a defense attorney who was not involved in the case, gives Stewart a 50% chance of victory on appeal based on the alleged perjury of the government's ink expert.
"It's going to be hotly contested on appeal. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals will have the last word on this issue and it could be reversed," says Bebel.
Bebel predicts that Stewart's lawyers will ask for a postponement of her report date to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Following that, he expects Stewart's legal team to request an expedited briefing schedule from the court of appeals so that Stewart does not finish her sentence even before an appellate decision is delivered.
Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic, her former Merrill Lynch broker, were convicted March 5 of lying to the government about Stewart's well-timed sale of about 4,000 shares of
in December 2001. The founder of
Martha Stewart Omnimedia
was convicted on all four counts in the obstruction of justice case.
In March, Stewart resigned as an officer and director of the company she founded, but maintained a role by assuming the newly created post of "founding editorial director."
Shares of Martha Stewart Omnimedia last traded down 36 cents, or 4.05%, at $8.52.