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When former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio learned that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals would be considering whether to uphold or reverse his 2007 conviction on nineteen counts of insider trading on September 25, he probably didn't think a thing about the date. Now, however, the fact that the hearing will take place the night after President George W. Bush warned Americans that the nation's economy is teetering on a dangerous precipice can't give him a warm feeling. After all, the current fiscal crisis is being blamed in many quarters on greedy corporate execs -- and while he undoubtedly feels this description doesn't fit him, lots of other folks do.
True, the judges who'll hear arguments at 1 p.m. today at the Byron White U.S. Courthouse on Stout Street may be predisposed to back Nacchio, since a 10th Circuit panel of three judges set the latest series of events in motion by ordering a new trial based on the trial judge's disallowal of testimony by a defense witness. (In this case, the government is appealing, not Nacchio.) But even though judges aren't supposed to let the news of the day influence their decisions, it'll take superhuman levels of objectivity to side with a figure as unsympathetic as Nacchio, who represents the very sort of slickster partly responsible for landing the U.S. in what Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama succinctly describes as "this mess."
Then again, things could be worse. At least Nacchio isn't a mortgage banker.