Slaying the QueenThe big question on Wall Street has been why it's taken so long for the feds to move against Stewart, given that the case has been making headlines for more than a year. Observers expect Stewart, who has insisted in the past that she has done nothing wrong, to face either obstruction of justice or insider trading charges. Robert Morvillo, the well-known New York white-collar defense lawyer who is representing Stewart, couldn't be reached Tuesday for comment.
Messy year at Martha Stewart
Legal experts attributed the delay to the high-profile nature of the defendant and the apparent lack of a significant paper trail. Lawyers say prosecutors tend to move deliberately in making a case against a celebrity or politician because they risk embarrassing themselves by mounting a prosecution on flimsy charges and then losing. Indeed, there's an old saying in the legal world that you "don't go after the king unless you can slay him." Complicating matters were efforts this week by Stewart lawyers to plead their case with prosecutors in Washington. But Seth Taube, a former federal prosecutor who is now a white-collar criminal defense specialist at McCarter & English in Newark, N.J., said the attempt by Martha Stewart's defense lawyers to avoid indictment was "doomed." The Justice Department has a "zero tolerance policy for securities fraud and hasn't backed down since before Enron," Taube says.