Matsumoto had hoped to start the trial Monday with opening statements after picking a jury of 12, with six alternates. That didn’t happen, since it took much longer than she expected to winnow a pool of almost 180 potential jurors down to just 47 people.
Excused were those who had negative opinions of Shkreli that rendered them ineligible to serve, or who had family, work or medical issues that would make it difficult or impossible to be a juror in the case.
Mastumoto voiced a similar hope on Tuesday that the trial would start sometime during the day. But those hopes were again dashed by the slow pace of interviewing additional prospective jurors out of the earshot of Shkreli, 34, about their potential conflicts.
One man, who previously had indicated that he had to ask his wife about rescheduling a vacation, told Matsumoto he would have concerns because the trial is a “Brooklyn case,” and that he lives near Shkreli’s home neighborhood, Sheepshead Bay.
“Are you concerned for your safety?” Matsumoto asked.
“I am,” the man answered.
When the man was sent out of the huddle of the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers who made up the sidebar participants, Brafman said the claim that the man might be in fear of his safety from Shkreli was “absurd.”
“I don’t think he’s afraid of my client,” Brafman said. “I think he’s afraid of his wife.”
The hesitant husband was dismissed from the panel.
Another man booted said he was a pharmacist with three decades of experience in the drug business.
“I do have knowledge of Turing Pharmaceuticals,” the man said. “I have an understanding of drug pricing.”
But, he added, “I feel I can be fine and impartial.”
However, the pharmacist said he would use his knowledge of the drug business to evaluate evidence and testimony during the trial, and added that he would tell other jurors what he knows about pharmaceuticals.
While Matsumoto initially brushed aside Brafman’s argument that the man should be dismissed as a juror, the judge changed her mind, saying the man’s intention to share his knowledge with others on the panel was a problem.
Because Matsumoto is still trying to accumulate a sufficient surplus of qualified people to serve as jurors, prosecutors and defense lawyers have not yet been allowed to issue any of a set of challenges they may use, for just about any reason, to bar a prospective juror from sitting on the panel that.
By the end of Tuesday, there were just 47 people remaining in a pool of potential jurors. Fresh prospects will be interviewed Wednesday. And the judge now hopes to begin the trial Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Matsumoto rejected a request by Brafman to declare a mistrial because of news stories about the negative opinions some prospective jurors had of former pharma CEO.
“I think it’s impossible for jurors not to see them,” Brafman said.
“I have someone who is facing 20 years in prison,” the lawyer noted, underscoring the risk that Shkreli faces from having a jury infected by what they might see of media coverage of the case.