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Tyco Mistrial Set a Dangerous Precedent

Even as debate rages on about whether Ruth B. Jordan, Juror No. 4 in the case against former Tyco execs Dennis Koslowski and Mark Swartz, did or did not flash an “okay” sign to the defense (they’re just after the “Polack and the Jew,” she reportedly told her fellow jurors), could it be that the Fastows of Enron fame have suddenly switched legal strategies in hopes of getting a similarly hung jury?

Lea Fastow, an accused participant in the Enron dealings and wife of the big Enron fish Andrew, withdrew her plea agreement this morning that would have likely given her 5 months of jail time. The official reason is that the sentencing judge indicated that he would not feel bound by the terms of the plea agreement, but perhaps Lea Fastow saw this an opportunity to escape punishment altogether in light of the Tyco case.

Allow me to go further out on a limb (what are blogs for after all) and ask, is it possible that the heavy handedness with which the Martha Stewart trial was conducted has softened our view of malfeasant CEOs elsewhere. Has Martha, by being set up as an undeserving symbol of corporate crook, helped shift popular sentiment from “throw the bums in jail” to “these guys were only doing their job”?

It’s hard to know for sure, but defense attorneys in these cases must be heartened by the fact that there could be other Ruth Jordans out there somewhere. The question is, will they find them?

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