trial's veil may be lifting
The illegal insider-trading case against the ex-CEO of Qwest
is opening proceedings to the public as security issues are
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Friday, January 19, 2007
After a series of
closed-door hearings, the cloud of secrecy over the criminal
insider-trading case against former Qwest chief executive
Joe Nacchio could be lifting.
U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham has scheduled a trial
preparation conference for March 1, at which time the
parties will have to submit their witness lists. The
conference is expected to be open to the public.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys also are required to
submit proposed jury questions today, according to a court
The closed hearings have been to review classified
information that Nacchio's attorneys plan to use to defend
him against 42 counts of illegal insider trading connected
to his sale of $101 million in Qwest stock in early 2001.
Nacchio faces up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine
for each count.
Prosecutors allege he knew the company's finances were
faltering. Nacchio, who left the company in mid-2002, has
denied any wrongdoing.
The trial is slated to begin March 19 and could last up to 7
Nacchio's attorneys have said they want to use classified
information to argue that Nacchio had a rosy outlook for
Qwest in early 2001 because he knew the company was in line
to receive large government contracts.
Nottingham has held four closed-door hearings with
prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss classified
information, including three closed hearings since setting
the trial date in August.
"You would normally have a series of discovery hearings that
would be done in public over issues like what evidence would
be admitted at the trial," said William Mitchelson, a former
Mitchelson, now a white-collar criminal defense lawyer with
Alston & Bird in Atlanta, said there's still a lot to be
done publicly over the next two months, but it appears the
case is on track to begin in March.
"They're having these hearings on a track that would still
allow the parties to get to trial on the scheduled date,"
Nottingham has ordered the government to disclose by Feb. 5
any information it may have that may clear Nacchio of guilt.
Nottingham has also scheduled biweekly telephone status
conferences with the parties beginning Jan. 26.
Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office
in Denver, said he didn't know whether those conferences
would be open to the public.
Staff writer Andy Vuong
can be reached at 303-954-1209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.