Lawyers for SAC Capital Advisors' Michael Steinberg, accused of insider-trading, are afraid that the "ubiquitous" and "inflammatory" coverage of the case could prevent their client from getting a fair trial.
Barry Berke asked a judge to ask potential jurors about their exposure to the publicity surrounding the case in a juror questionnaire, as well as other measures to avoid a tainted jury, including permission to question potential jurors who are familiar with the case.
"The coverage has not only been ubiquitous, but its qualitative content has also been inflammatory, thereby heightening the risk that it could interfere with the ability of potential jurors to assess impartially the government's case against Mr. Steinberg and Mr. Steinberg's defense," Berke wrote.
The lawyer sought to quantify just how "saturated" the media has been: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and New York Post have run at least 181 articles about Steinberg or SAC since September, including 15 front-page stories. The case has also been actively discussed on Twitter, with 531 Tweets about Steinberg or SAC, which were re-Tweeted 3,454 times.
Steinberg's trial is set to begin on Nov. 18. He is accused of trading technology shares based on confidential information passed to him by a former analyst.