Qwest CEO's new trial best viewed with tinfoil hats on

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio will be getting yet another day in court. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals cited improper exclusion of testimony and evidence in Nacchio's April 2007 conviction on insider trading charges. Nacchio faces six years in prison and $71 million in fines and forfeitures if he loses this appeal.

Nacchio's attorney, Maureen Mahoney, argues that his sunny disposition amidst troubling financial predictions from company officials (and his own sale of millions of dollars of Qwest shares) were due to optimism that the company would win lucrative contracts with the National Security Agency. The appeals court agreed that classified documents related to those negotiations were improperly excluded.

The defense could benefit from a new jury sympathetic to their argument that Nacchio was a defender of civil liberties who raised questions concerning the legality of undisclosed NSA programs (which name I imagine starts with "warrantless" and ends with "wiretapping"). Smart move. God-fearing, patriotic defender of the Constitution generally plays better with John Q. Public than wealthy CEO blissfully unaware of impending corporate insolvency.

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(Photo by Reuters/Rick Wilking)