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Judge, attorneys in Durham trial look for jurors untainted by media reports

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A federal judge and a handful of attorneys are on track to select the group of men and women who could determine the fate of indicted financier Tim Durham and co-defendants Jim Cochran and Rick Snow.

The day-long jury-selection process, which began Friday morning in U.S. District Court, launched what's expected to be a three-week trial on 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud stemming from the collapse of Fair Finance.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson led the effort, which began with written questionnaires for dozens of potential members of the jury.

The judge and attorneys for both sides questioned potential jurors who noted they were familiar with the case via media reports or who expressed concern about their ability to be impartial. The winnowing process began immediately.  

"He took money from people's pensions and spent it on fun things," one woman said in noting she had a preconceived notion of the case.

She was released as a potential juror a few minutes later.

An elderly man in the jury pool asked to change his answer on a questionnaire as to whether he could be an impartial juror, from "yes" to "no."

The judge asked him to explain.

"As a retired person, I think it would be a horrible thing to scam a retired person out of their life savings," he responded.

He also was dismissed from the jury.

Most objections to individual jurors came from the defense, after some potential jurors acknowledged they had already formed an opinion on Durham or had a bias against those accused of financial crimes.

But the government successfully moved to dismiss a juror who recalled a chance encounter with Durham at a restaurant in New Castle. Both were dining at the restaurant, and the man complimented Durham on his car parked outside. Durham picked up the man's dinner tab.

Jurors were asked to fill out a questionnaire explaining what they had heard or read about the case. At least three of them confused the Durham matter with the Marcus Schrenker case, in which a Geist area money manager attempted to fake his own death in a plane crash to avoid prosecution for a financial scheme.

That wasn't necessarily a problem, Magnus-Stinson explained, if the potential jurors could approach the Durham case fresh and decide based on the merits of the evidence presented in court.

Jurors who made the first cut were ushered into the courtroom for a reading of the indictment against Durham and his co-defendants, followed by more questioning by the judge and attorneys.

They were scheduled to repeat the process with another large group of potential jurors Friday afternoon, questioning them until both sides are satisfied with a group of 12 jurors and four alternates.

The judge said the trial could last three weeks and noted the jurors would be paid a nominal $40 per day, plus parking and meals.

The jury would be allowed to go home at night but would be barred from discussing the case with anyone, including family members.

For all of IBJ's coverage of Fair Finance and Durham, click here.
 

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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