Court To Take Up Rajaratnam Appeal

Oct 24 2012 | 4:39am ET

Lawyers for Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam will ask a federal appeals court tomorrow to throw out his conviction on 14 counts on insider-trading, attacking the trial court judge's decision to allow the jury to hear damaging wiretaps.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals will consider arguments from both Rajaratnam's lawyers and the government. Rajaratnam, who is serving an 11-year prison term, is not expected to attend.

His lawyers will have to get their arguments in quickly: Each side has only 15 minutes before the court, and Rajaratnam's team plans to argue that former U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell, who presided over the hedge fund billionaire's trial, also erred in the jury instructions for nine of the 14 counts.

Rajaratnam's lawyers have argued that Holwell should have excluded the wiretaps because they said the government misled the judges that approved them. They've gotten some support on that front: The man who wrote the federal wiretap statute in 1968, law professor G. Robert Blakey, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Rajaratnam's favor, as have eight retired federal judges, including the former chief judge of the Second Circuit.

Blakey, who told Reuters that he believes Rajaratnam is guilty, said of the government, "bluntly, they lied."

A ruling is not expected any time soon. Legal experts have suggested that Rajaratnam has little chance of success; if he wins, he could get a new trial.

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