Martha's Woes

By Lawrence Goodman / May / June 2007
May 16th, 2007

Joan Macleod Heminway ’83, who edited the new book Martha Stewart’s Legal Troubles, speculates that Stewart paid the price for other scandals. Heminway teaches law at the University of Tennessee.

BAM: Why would a law professor edit an academic book about Martha Stewart?

Joan MacLeod Heminway: I’m not a huge Martha Stewart fan, but I have been a subscriber to her magazine and found her to be a fascinating person. She was an amazing feminist. She struck out in a new direction, started her own company, made it to the New York Stock Exchange, but what she gets caught for is a typical male crime. In the legal actions filed against her, she was alleged to be just as greedy as those men who went before.

BAM: Many of the authors contributing to your book seem to believe Stewart was unfairly prosecuted.

JMH: What prosecutors were doing in the Stewart case was stretching [insider trading] law well beyond the bounds that the Supreme Court has firmly set. Stewart was not an insider of the company whose shares she traded. Her closest connection to ImClone was as the former girlfriend of the CEO and a minor shareholder. And in the end, her conviction wasn’t for insider trading. It was for lying. We spent millions of dollars going after her for doing something we all learned not to do in grade school—lying.

BAM: What do you think was the real reason she was prosecuted?

JMH: She clearly got caught up in the Enron and WorldCom scandals. We had to get somebody, and we had to get somebody quick.

BAM: So was Stewart a victim?

JMH: I hate to think of her as a victim because she’s such a damn strong person. But I do think she’s a victim of the Enron era. What happened to her—I’m not sure it would happen today.

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May / June 2007