Jury Picked In Rajaratnam Case, Opening Statements Set For Today

Mar 9 2011 | 1:56pm ET

The insider-trading trial of Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam is set to begin in earnest this afternoon with opening statements, after the judge presiding over the case finished selecting the jury earlier today.

The roughly 150 men and women who entered the courtroom yesterday as potential jurors were whittled down to 12, and six alternates, over the past two days. U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell empanelled the 18 at around noon, beginning a trial that is expected to last as long as two-and-a-half months.

Seven of the jurors are women and five are men. At least four reside in the Bronx, four in Manhattan and three in Westchester. Educators are well-represented on the panel, with several teachers, retired teachers and employees of various boards of education, and at least two work for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Several have family members who work in the financial services industry.

Among those who didn't make the cut is a woman who identified Appaloosa Management's David Tepper as a friend. Karen Sochoff told Holwell yesterday that she and Tepper "spend holidays together," although she could not remember the name of the hedge fund he runs.

With that exception, few if any of the potential jurors seem to know much about the case or Wall Street in general. Of the first 40 questioned by Rajaratnam, only eight had heard of the case and none knew who Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a potential witness, was.

One potential juror had, however, heard of John O'Connor.

"He's just my ex-husband," she said.

Holwell read a list of 102 possible witnesses, including most of the 25 other people charged in the Galleon case, several Goldman executives and Rajaratnam's two brothers.

Also notable yesterday was Holwell's concurrence with Rajaratnam's lawyers on his eventual instructions to the jury. The judge said he agreed that they should be told that they can only convict the Galleon founder if they find he knew that those passing tips to him were breaking a legal or fiduciary duty to their company.

The judge did say his ruling was "preliminary" and prosecutors indicated they would attempt to sway him.

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