Jury picked for Cuban's insider-trading trial

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

DALLAS (AP) — Seven women and three men were picked Monday to decide the government's lawsuit charging billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with insider trading.

The jury includes one man who said he was "leaning" toward Cuban's side based on what he'd already heard about the case. One woman said she was "impressed" with Cuban as a man who stands up for his beliefs, and another called him "a nice guy."

The makeup of the jury could represent another hurdle for Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers who will try the case before U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater.

"It's a very tough case for the SEC. The trial judge dismissed it once," said Russell Duncan, a former federal prosecutor who tried financial-fraud cases. After Fitzwater dismissed the SEC lawsuit in 2009, an appeals court overturned his decision and sent the case back.

The SEC charged in a civil lawsuit that Cuban violated insider-trading rules in 2004 by selling his shares in a Canadian Internet company after learning confidentially about news that would send the shares down. The government said that he avoided $750,000 in losses by dumping his stock. Cuban's lawyers dispute the SEC's version and say he did nothing wrong.

It took all day Monday to whittle a pool of 64 prospective jurors down to a 10-member panel. Much of the questioning by lawyers for both sides dealt with what jurors knew about confidentiality agreements and whether they had seen Cuban on ABC's "Shark Tank."

One woman picked for the jury remembered seeing Cuban several years ago on "Dancing With the Stars." When one of Cuban's lawyers asked why he was voted off the show, the woman answered, "He was not a good dancer."

Cuban, at the defense table in a navy suit, blue tie, white shirt and French cuffs, laughed and nodded in agreement with the woman's recollection.