Nacchio team gains access to juror surveys
Judge Edward Nottingham calls the request by attorneys for the
convicted former Qwest chief executive "grasping at straws."
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 22, 2007
A federal judge on Tuesday granted Joe Nacchio's request for
disclosure of questionnaire responses from 1,000 prospective
jurors in his illegal-insider-trading trial.
Attorneys for the former Qwest chief executive have indicated
they want to review those questionnaires as part of their
anticipated appeal of his conviction.
In granting the request, U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham
lambasted Nacchio's attorneys for arguing that they were never
told how the jury pool was winnowed from 1,000 to fewer than
"Defendant has shown no diligence in pursuing the claim, and it
is difficult for this court to regard his present motion as
anything other than post-verdict grasping at straws," Nottingham
wrote in the order.
Nacchio's Denver attorney John Richilano declined to comment
Nottingham cited two reasons for granting Nacchio's motion.
"First, as long as private and identifying (information) about
prospective jurors is protected, neither the jurors nor the
parties would be prejudiced by disclosure," Nottingham wrote.
"Second, and more important, the court believes that disclosure
at this point might well facilitate and expedite appellate
review and avoid possible piecemeal appeals."
In their request for the jury responses last month, Nacchio's
attorneys wrote that the court's "pre-trial method for winnowing
the venire from 1,000 to 78 may be (an) error that warrants the
grant of a new trial."
The motion also stated that "over Mr. Nacchio's objection, the
court sent out only a single, very limited, questionnaire to
1,000 potential jurors" with the intention of excluding any
prospective juror who had a prior employment, business or
financial relationship with Qwest.
In his 16-page order Tuesday, Nottingham said that "argument
attempts to rewrite history."
Nottingham also went into detail about the process. He sent
potential jurors 13 questions, with 11 taken from the parties
and two proposed by the court. Initially, he wanted to rule out
anyone who answered that they or a family member had owned US
West/Qwest stock but later proposed to not eliminate those
jurors because he was concerned there would be an insufficient
number of "clean" jurors.
Nottingham also changed his mind about eliminating prospective
jurors who said they had "ever done business" with Qwest/US West
because many answered that question by indicating that they had
phone service from the companies.
Nottingham said he discussed the first change with the parties
but not the second.
Out of 1,000 summonses, 367 were returned undeliverable, 54 did
not respond, 472 jurors were disqualified based on their
responses, 24 weren't eliminated but required follow-up
questions, and two responded after the trial had started. That
left 81 clean jurors, not 78, and 77 participated in jury
selection March 19.
A status conference has been scheduled for May 31 to resolve
Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or