‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli, also nicknamed ‘the most hated man in America,’ is set to face trial for federal charges on Securities Fraud. One of the bigger problems faced at the start of the trial is finding unbiased jurors, as Shkreli has been in the public eye for the past couple years, receiving mostly negative press. Although the case relates to Securities Fraud, Shkreli is most well known for buying Daraprim and raising the price 5000% overnight from $13.50 to $750. Many of the potential jurors called for the case were let go for bias as they are familiar and/or upset with Shkreli’s medical dealings. The criminal case is on trial in Federal Court, and needs 12 unbiased jurors. Over 250 potential jurors were dismissed over the course of two days for prejudice, and the sixth amendment states that:
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
Ultimately, the case has a trial jury (petit jury) with twelve jurors, seven women and five men, with six alternatives. The jury must unanimously vote “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Shkreli is guilt, and he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Shkreli was arrested in 2015 for running a ponzi-like scheme. USA v. Shkreli et. al. went to trial on June 26 and is expected to take 4-6 weeks to complete. Shkreli is on trial for Securities Fraud where he was involved in a ponzi-like scheme where he took $11 million from Retrophin and its shareholders, and used it to pay back investors at MSMB. Although his case does not relate to his dealings in the pharmaceutical business, his past history is looming over everyone’s heads during jury selection. Over 250 potential jurors were sent home over the course of jury selection, with people calling him “the most hated man in America” and “a snake” as many jurors were familiar with Shkreli and his dealings in the pharmaceutical world. The judge denied the defense’s claim of mistrial.
Shkreli is best known for raising prices for Daraprim by 5000% overnight
Jury selection is something that affects each citizen of the United States, and is part of our duty to serve on. Jury selection begins in each district, with a lottery where people get randomly chosen for jury duty. When your name is chosen, a notice comes in the mail with a form that must be filled out and returned within 10 days. You must call in when notified on your jury summons to see if you must come into court. The second stage is called the “Voir Dire,” where the court and attorneys narrow down the jury pool to 12 people. Normally, each juror is questioned regarding backgrounds and beliefs, and things that may make them biased. For example, in Shkreli’s case, people who heard about him through the news, were directly affected by the increase in price for Daraprim, or work in the health sector may all be biased. Anyone with bias is dismissed from jury duty through two types of objections- peremptory challenge and challenges for cause. In a federal case, there are unlimited numbers available for challenges and eventually the 12 jurors are chosen.
In order to serve on a jury, you must be: a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older, speak proficient English, have no disqualifying mental or physical condition, never have been convicted of a felony, and not currently subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment of more than one year. You may be exempt from jury duty if it causes “undue hardship or extreme inconvenience” or if you are over 70, or work in public office. Jurors are paid $40 for the first ten days on trial, then $50 for the other days and are also reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses and parking fees.
Over 250 jurors were let go over two days of jury selection
Ultimately, one of the main aspects in a case is a fair trial, and Martin Shkreli’s previous actions made it a challenge to do so. Once the jury was set, fearing the risk of exposure for the jurors, the judge barred Shkreli from speaking outside and around the courthouse after he went on a five-minute rant to reporters. It is part of our responsibility as citizens of the United States to take part in jury duty and be unbiased jurors. Shkreli’s case let go over 250 potential jurors, many because of their knowledge of Shkreli’s past. In America, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty- and only time will tell the outcome of Shkreli’s case.
-Ashley Roshanzamir and Kevin Lipton, ESQ.
Lipton Legal Group, A PC – Beverly Hills, CA