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No New Trial For Martha Stewart

A federal judge on Thursday denied Martha Stewart's latest request for a new trial based on allegations that a government ink expert lied on the witness stand at her first trial.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said there was "no reasonable likelihood that this perjury could have affected the jury's verdict."

The judge added that "overwhelming independent evidence" supports the jury's guilty verdict.

The decision was the second time Cedarbaum has rejected a new-trial request from Martha Stewart and Bacanovic.

In May, she rejected a new-trial motion based on defense allegations that a juror lied on his jury questionnaire in order to get on the panel.

The request, considered a long shot by legal experts, came four weeks before Stewart and former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic were to be sentenced for lying about a well-timed stock sale by the celebrity homemaker in 2001.

The motion argued the conviction was tainted by perjury charges against Larry Stewart, a Secret Service laboratory director who was called as an expert witness at the trial in February.

Prosecutors say Larry Stewart, who is not related to Martha Stewart, lied on the stand about the role he played in ink-analysis tests conducted on a worksheet prepared by Bacanovic.

Court papers filed by lawyers for Martha Stewart said several other Secret Service officials were in court, monitoring the trial, and were aware of the perjury but did not say anything about it.

"Their silence is scandalous and not the way we expect the government to conduct itself," Stewart's lawyers, Robert Morvillo and John T. Tigue, said in a statement.

"This is not a great shock," said Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "The legal standard to get a new trial is awfully high and what did in Martha Stewart here is that the judge believes, and the jury obviously believed, that Stewart would have been convicted even without the testimony the government now says was a lie."

Martha Stewart and Bacanovic were convicted March 5 of lying about why she sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in 2001, just before the price plunged. Each is expected to get 10 to 16 months in prison at sentencing July 8.

"This virtually ensures that Martha Stewart will be sentenced to some prison time next week," said Cohen. "Clearly the judge is comfortable with the convictions against Stewart; clearly she does not believe that the defendants got an unfair trial. So I expect some fairly harsh words from the judge before that sentencing."

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