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Quattrone Says Judge Should Step Down

From Bloomberg News

Former Credit Suisse First Boston banker Frank Quattrone, who is facing a second trial for obstructing justice, said the judge presiding over the case was biased against him and should step down.

Quattrone, citing “pro-government, anti-defense comments made by the court,” filed the request this week in Manhattan federal court. The first trial, at which U.S. District Judge Richard Owen presided, ended in a hung jury. Owen also is set to oversee the coming trial, scheduled for March.

Quattrone had complained about Owen’s rulings, calling them “lopsided.” In the motion filed Wednesday, Quattrone goes a step further and asks Owen to step aside should he refuse to transfer the case closer to Quattrone’s home in Northern California. Quattrone says Owen’s rulings denied him a fair trial. A hearing will be held Monday morning.

Prosecutors on Friday opposed Quattrone’s request, saying Owen’s “comments and conduct were well within the boundaries of propriety.”

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“The court displayed commendable patience, civility and courtesy toward all counsel, parties and witnesses,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Steven Peikin said in court papers.

The trial of Quattrone, whose Silicon Valley-based team managed more initial public stock offerings for Internet companies than any other banker, was the first criminal case arising from the alleged excesses of the late-1990s stock market boom.

In the first trial, the jury couldn’t agree on whether Quattrone obstructed probes in 2000 and 2001 into how CSFB allocated IPO shares. Eight of 11 jurors voted to convict him; three favored acquittal. Owen declared a mistrial Oct. 24.

Defense attorney John Keker and Owen clashed repeatedly, leaving Quattrone on the losing end of numerous evidentiary rulings. Keker said he should have been allowed to present evidence that prosecutors weren’t investigating Quattrone’s investment banking division, a key defense claim throughout the monthlong trial.

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