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Quattrone 2.0


The Wall Street Journal’s talented court duo, Scannel and Smith, are probably writing their Frank Quattrone retrial curtain raiser as I type, so it’s probably as good a time as any to note that yes, indeed, the man who brought you the Internet stock bubble goes on trail (again) Tuesday in Manhattan.
Quattrone’s lawyer John Keker got things off to a fine start this week by asking Judge Richard Owen to give him an anonymous jury. The judge treated that request the way he’s treated most of Keker’s motions: he turned it down. But you gotta wonder if Keker hasn’t gone begging for trouble here.

First, he’s gave the Journal and pretty much everyone else a news peg for their opening coverage at a time when, well, it’s probably better to hope for less, not more, exposure. Retrials are boring. But do something different – cite publicity and ask that jurors be kept away from the press – and you’ll make news. But maybe that was the idea. Keker’s raised Quattrone’s profile just a tiny bit. He could be warning potential jurors to be worried about oh, I dunno, getting labeled “batty” and having the New York Times sitting on your doorstep, couldn’t he? Nah. He wouldn’t do that. Would he?
During the last trial, Keker used my New York Post coverage (archived here) to rant and rail about the trial coverage. That was nothing. Really. But this time, well, this time Keker won’t have Chris Nolan to kick around. I’m staying home for Quattrone 2.0. The Post had a field day with the “batty blueblood,” and the guy who wrote that story, the talented John Lehman, will be monitoring Quattrone. I hope he has as much fun as he did with Tyco.
That doesn’t mean I’ll be quiet. You can ‘blog from anywhere – and transcripts are easy to come by.
And while it’s not a strictly political story, what hapens to Quattrone has political implications for anyone intersted in seeing the stock market made more open and fair. This case really is the only way in which people outside Silicon Valley can get a look at the tight, insular and insulated workings of this place, a set-up that has remained remarkably unchanged.
Despite all the strum und drang out there about white collar crime, Silicon Valley’s Friends and Family style of doing business hasn’t been much interrupted and if Quattrone is acquitted or gets another hung jury, it will be seen as a complete vindication of the valley’s way of doing business. Quattrone will be welcomed back with open arms by clients anxious once again to have a guy who fights, and fights hard, for them. His trial and his victory will become his calling card — I think it will help him start his own boutique investment bank. It’ll be a roaring success. Quattrone is a gifted banker who understands his clients better than anyone and Silicon Valley loves nothing more than an outsider, like them, who fights, wins, and walks away with the cash.
It’d be the perfect fairytale ending. But Quattrone’s in a much tighter spot than he was first time around. The political climate has changed a bit. There’s more distrust out there. The Martha Stewart conviction and the sleazy challenges her lawyers are mounting and the Tyco mistrial give the charges against Quattrone more substance. He’s accused of obstruction of justice and witness tampering — of lying and asking others to lie. And now jurors have an idea of exactly what that can mean, something they didn’t have – not really – back in October, 2003.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 4:37 PM | Permalink

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