New York, Jun 15 - Jurors in the insider-trading trial of former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta ended their first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict after the defence sought a not-guilty verdict for the Indian- American, saying "whatever you decide here will mark whatever future he has left."
The 12-member jury in Manhattan federal court will resume today discussion of the evidence from the four-week-long trial in Wall Street's biggest insider trading case.
During their deliberations, the jurors asked for transcripts of the testimony of an ex-Galleon trader and sought clarification on the legal definition of conspiracy.
The prosecution and defence had presented their closing arguments on Wednesday after which the case had gone to the jury, a group of eight women and four men.
In his 24-page charging document to the jury, Judge Jed Rakoff said, "Your duty is to decide the fact issues in the case and arrive, if you can, at a verdict. You are to perform your final duty in an attitude of complete fairness and impartiality."
The jury will have to come up with a guilty or not-guilty verdict on the five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy charge that Gupta faces.
Rakoff said the jurors "must consider each individual charge separately and evaluate each on the proof or lack of proof that relates to that charge."
The defense said in its closing arguments that there is no "direct, real and hard evidence" against 63-year-old Gupta and that the government's case is circumstantial. Gupta's lawyer Gary Naftalis urged the jury to give Gupta a not-guilty verdict if they have even the slightest doubt that he committed any crime.
"For Gupta, this is the case in which whatever you decide here will mark whatever future he has left," Naftalis had said in a low tone during summations. The prosecution has said the evidence against Gupta is "overwhelming and devastating."
The government has accused Gupta of abusing his position and violating his duties when he tipped his business friend, the now-jailed hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam with confidential boardroom information about Goldman Sachs and Proctor and Gamble. If convicted, Gupta faces a maximum possible prison sentence of 25 years.
Earlier yesterday, the jury asked for transcripts of the testimony of former Galleon trader Michael Cardillo, who had appeared as a government witness in the trial. Cardillo has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and is cooperating with the government.
He had testified that Galleon bought 180,000 P&G shares on January 29, 2009 after Rajaratnam's "guy on the board" of the consumer giant shared information about its quarterly earnings.
In a second note sent to Rakoff the jury said, "Dear Your Honor, we could use some clarification on the legal definition of conspiracy."
Rakoff then conferred with the prosecutors and defense lawyers and sent a note to the jury explaining that conspiracy is an agreement "entered into knowingly and willfully between any two or more persons."
Giving the example of an "overt act" in a conspiracy, Rakoff said, "if two persons conspire to commit a fraud and one of them makes a telephone call to start the fraud going, the overt act requirement is met even if the fraud is never otherwise carried out."
The jury, which comprises a retired librarian, a freelance beauty consultant, a nonprofit organisation executive and a school counselor, began its deliberations yesterday morning. Gupta was present in court with his wife and four daughters as he awaited the verdict.
He sat with his lawyers and occasionally went to sit with his family in the spectators' bench while the attorneys worked on the jurors' notes. At one point, he came up to the media gallery in the courtroom to look at a court artist's sketches of him and the attorneys. PTI