‘He kind of looks like a dick:’ Transcripts reveal ‘Pharma Bro’ jury selection a challenge
Martin Shkreli attracted a wide range of disgust: "He disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan," said one potential juror.
Shocking new transcripts show that the halls of justice were not exactly paved with jurors sympathetic to the man who raised the price of an AIDS drug 5,000%, leaving defense attorneys to search desperately through the cracks.
Last month, "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli was convicted of fraud for swindling investors in two failed hedge funds. The perpetually smirking pharmaceutical entrepreneur had previously been tried in the court of public opinion for the drug-price hike and for buying the only copy of a new album by the Wu-Tang Clan, then refusing to let people listen to it.
Brooklyn court transcripts show that during jury selection for the fraud case, attorneys had their work cut out for them in finding 12 people who were impartial about Shkreli. Potential jurors offered feedback such as, "He's the most hated man in America" and "He looks like a dick," suggesting that depriving the public of the Wu is tantamount to being caught holding a smoking gun over a corpse.
Some highlights, first published by Harpers:
Juror No. 1: I'm aware of the defendant and I hate him.
Shkreli attorney Benjamin Brafman: I'm sorry.
Juror No. 1: I think he's a greedy little man.
The court: Jurors are obligated to decide the case based only on the evidence. Do you agree?
Juror No. 1: I don't know if I could. I wouldn't want me on this jury.
Juror No. 47: He’s the most hated man in America. In my opinion, he equates with Bernie Madoff with the drugs for pregnant women going from $15 to $750. My parents are in their 80s. They’re struggling to pay for their medication. My mother was telling me yesterday how my father’s cancer drug is $9,000 a month.
The court: The case is going to come before you on evidence that you must consider fairly and with an open mind.
Juror No. 47: I would find that difficult.
Juror No. 144: I heard through the news of how the defendant changed the price of a pill by up-selling it. I heard he bought an album from the Wu-Tang Clan for a million dollars.
The court: The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind? Can you do that?
Juror No. 144: I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick.
Juror No. 52: When I walked in here today, I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake – not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.
Brafman: So much for the presumption of innocence.
Juror No. 59: Your Honor, totally he is guilty and in no way can I let him slide out of anything because –
The court: OK. Is that your attitude toward anyone charged with a crime who has not been proven guilty?
Juror No. 59: It’s my attitude toward his entire demeanor, what he has done to people.
The court: All right. We are going to excuse you, sir.
Juror No. 59: And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.
The court: Juror Number 10, please come forward.
Juror No. 10: The only thing I'd be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to.
The court: Okay. We will excuse you.