Enterasys prosecutors question questionnaire

Federal prosecutors don’t want prospective jurors to be given a questionnaire that asks them about their experience with corporate malfeasance and stock market loss in the upcoming securities fraud trial of Enterasys Networks’ formerchief operating officer, Jerry Shanahan.

The prosecutors, in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Concord, objected to the questionnaire that was used in the original trial of Shanahan and four other Enterasys executives last December. After a month of testimony and a week of deliberations, the jury convicted the other executives of using accounting tricks to inflate Enterays revenue while the company was spinning off from the former Rochester-based Cabletron Systems. But the jury could not reach a decision on Shanahan, and a holdout juror prevented a complete acquittal in Shanahan’s case. The other defendants received sentences that ranged from three to 11-1/2 years.

In the questionnaire for the December trial, potential jurors were asked specific questions about their opinions of Enterasys and Cabletron – once the largest employer in New Hampshire — and even Cabletron co-founder and former governor Craig Benson, even though Benson was not charged or even a witness in the case.

They had to address more general questions about corporate misconduct: Were they a victim of fraud of any kind? Have they ever lost a lot of money in the stock market? Did they follow any securities scandal in the media? Did they have strong opinions about CEOs?

Whenever a question was answered in the affirmative, the potential jurors were grilled by defense attorneys who used their peremptory challenges to weed out jurors who stated negative opinions about corporate executives.

Last month, Shanahan’s attorney asked for the court to distribute the same questionnaire, with only one minor change. Prosecutors replied that they wanted to ditch the questionnaire altogether, arguing that the court could discuss any concerns when it questions potential jurors. The questionnaire, they argued, was a waste of time and expense because defense attorneys addressed the concerns in their oral questioning of jurors anyway.

However, prosecutors said, if a questionnaire is used, prosecutors ask that it be done as early as possible so both sides can prepare for the responses. – BOB SANDERS

Categories: News