The early verdict from courtroom spectators was that the prosecution scored points with a tightly drafted presentation that addressed the greatest weaknesses in its case during the previous trial. The defense offered a revamped opening presentation – replacing the lead lawyer, changing certain arguments and refusing to commit Mr. Quattrone to take the stand – that some people in attendance at both trials suggested made its much maligned opening argument from the first trial look good.
Steven R. Peiken, an assistant United States attorney, opened by telling jurors, who, of course, never saw his other opening: “This case is about one man’s effort to obstruct justice and destroy evidence. It’s about how a powerful and successful Wall Street investment banker tried to interfere with federal investigations.”
Standing at a lectern in front of the jury box, Mr. Peiken said: “This man seated third at the table, Frank Quattrone – Frank Quattrone knew that the S.E.C. and a federal grand jury were investigating the business of his investment banking firm. And knowing that these investigations threatened his business, his reputation, and his livelihood, he urged hundreds of people who worked for him to clean out their files before federal investigators got a chance to see what was in those files.”
Mr. Peiken explained during his presentation how Mr. Quattrone endorsed an e-mail message to employees from another executive that suggested “before you leave for the holidays, you should catch up on file cleaning” just days after learning of the investigations. The employee who wrote the original message, Richard Char, was never made aware of the investigations.
In the last trial, Mr. Peiken focused most of his time on that one e-mail message, but this time around he spent considerably more effort to point out that Mr. Quattrone did not just endorse the message, he allowed the original message to be sent after reviewing a draft of it, giving the prosecution’s case some extra heft.
“When Frank Quattrone got Mr. Char’s ‘clean out the files’ e-mail, he had a choice,” Mr. Peiken said. “He could easily have chosen to stop this memo from going out. But Frank Quattrone chose another path, a path that broke the laws and a path that would eventually lead right up the steps of this courthouse into this very courtroom and right to the defense table.”
The prosecution did concede one point to the defense this time: It accepted Mr. Quattrone’s argument that the allocation of initial public offerings, the focus of the investigation that he is accused of obstructing, took place in a separate department.