That woman, U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, also paused to discuss art with one potential juror, noting, “I share your interest in the Hudson River painters.”
“She’s very, very deliberate and prudent,” said veteran defense attorney Herald Price Fahringer. “Also very refined.”
With Stewart in her courtroom, Cedarbaum, 74, is facing her highest-profile case in 18 years on the bench.
Stewart is accused of working with her former stockbroker to cook up a phony explanation for why she sold shares of ImClone Systems stock on Dec. 27, 2001, just before it plummeted on a negative regulatory report. She has denied the charges, suggesting the government wants to reduce a successful woman to a scapegoat.
A jury is expected to be seated Monday, and opening arguments are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.
In pretrial hearings in the Stewart case, Cedarbaum has cut off lawyers when they start to repeat themselves, and admonished both sides for grandstanding and name-calling.
“We don’t need speeches,” she told Stewart attorney Robert Morvillo.
She has also antagonized the throng of reporters covering the trial with two pretrial orders: one cautioning the press to stay away from potential jurors, the other closing jury selection.
The judge claimed the unusual steps were needed to ensure a fair jury. She agreed to release transcripts of the juror interviews, minus the names.
Last week, 17 news groups, including The Associated Press, filed court papers arguing Cedarbaum violated the First Amendment. Although the appeal — to be heard Monday by a federal appeals court — comes too late to affect the Stewart trial, it could affect future cases.
Cedarbaum came under fire in 1993 in a similar juror-access issue. She told potential jurors at a mob trial that their identities would be kept confidential to keep reporters from contacting them.
But newspaper columnist Jerry Capeci said the ruling mandating an anonymous jury was based solely on fears that the mob defendants — not the press — might harass them. He wrote a scathing column accusing her of misleading jurors and smearing the media.