Legal experts said the best-case scenario — the dismissal of the guilty verdicts handed down on Friday — will be extremely difficult for defense lawyers to win and that Stewart’s trial poses a particularly high hurdle because of the accuracy of the judge’s rulings.
Ivan Fisher, a prominent Manhattan defense attorney, said that appeals court reversals are typically based on errors made by the trial judge.
“I don’t think she made any,” he said of U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who oversaw Stewart’s seven-week trial for lying about a suspicious stock trade.
Stewart, 62, was convicted on Friday of conspiring with her former Merrill Lynch stock broker to hide the reason behind her suspicious sale of shares in the biotech company ImClone Systems Inc. (IMCL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Dec. 27, 2001. She was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of agency proceedings.
Experts said Stewart could be sentenced to between 10 months and two years for her crimes.
Although Stewart was convicted of lying to investigators about the circumstances of the stock sale, she was not charged with insider trading. Because of this, the judge barred the defense team from arguing that no illegal trading took place.
Andrew Schapiro, a white collar defense lawyer who specializes in appellate work at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, said this could give Stewart grounds for an appeal.
“Her lawyers certainly have their work cut out for them but they have one strong issue and maybe more,” Schapiro said.