Judge Gets Personal At Bear Stearns Trial

This week Judge Frederic Block spent hours interviewing potential jurors for the securities fraud trial of Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin. Cioffi and Tannin are former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers accused of misleading investors about the health of their funds, resulting in losses which totaled nearly $1.5 billion.

While questioning the jury pool, the judge asked a series of pertinent questions, like, “Do you have a 401k?” “Did you lose money?” “Will you blame these men for your losses?” He also asked questions that seemed to have little bearing on the case, including “Are you a Mets fan?” “You said in your questionnaire that you like watching the TV show House. Why?” “You like Indian music? Anything I might recognize, anything with a sitar?”

One back-and-forth between Judge Block and a potential alternate juror was particularly comical:

JUDGE: You say you're a ‘logger.’ What does that mean exactly?

JUROR: Well, when TV producers shoot their reality show, they'll give me the tapes afterward. And my job is to watch them, write down what I see, and transcribe all the interviews.

JUDGE: Interesting. How does someone get a job like that?

JUROR: Misfortune, mostly.

The young man was not selected to be juror in the trial, which is expected to last 6 weeks.