Insult was added to injury for disgraced former biopharma and hedge fund boss Martin Shkreli yesterday, as court transcripts emerged which revealed the American public's vehement dislike of the newly convicted securities fraudster.
Shkreli, who was dubbed “the most hated man in America” after he hiked the price of Aids treatment Daraprim by 5,000 per cent when his firm Turing Pharmaceuticals obtained the manufacturing licence, was convicted earlier this month of two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He was found not guilty for another five charges.
While Shkreli now faces up to 20 years in prison, transcripts from the jury selection process show that the court almost struggled to get anyone at all to judge the case. More than 200 people were dismissed as they could not provide an unbiased assessment of Shkreli's evidence.
Here are some of the best responses, published by Harper's Magazine, which members of the public gave to the court to get them dismissed from the jury:
1. “He's the most hated man in America”
Plenty of the people called up for jury service were clearly not ready to forget Shkreli's past inflammatory moves, such as his price-hike of life-saving drug Daraprim and his brash defence of manufacturer Mylan when it decided to increase the price of the EpiPen allergy treatment.
"He’s the most hated man in America," said Juror Number 47. "My parents are in their eighties. They’re struggling to pay for their medication."
When asked if she could judge the case with an open mind, Juror Number 47 replied: "I would find that difficult."
2. “He's a greedy little man”
Juror Number One clearly agreed, calling Shkreli a "greedy little man". In a startling fit of honesty, the juror told the court: "I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him," before adding: "I wouldn’t want me on this jury."
3. “He disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan”
One of the more bizarre responses which the court heard – presumably from a Wu-Tang Clan fan – was that a prospective juror could not be open-minded towards Shkreli because he had "disrespected" the cult hip-hop group.
Juror Number 59 was no doubt referring to the episode in 2016 when Shkreli leaked the one-of-a-kind album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, which he had bought a year earlier for $2m with the stipulation that he must not release it for 88 years.
"Your Honor, totally he is guilty and in no way can I let him slide out of anything," Juror Number 59 told the court.
When asked if this was his attitude towards anyone charged with a crime before they were found guilty, the juror said it was "my attitude toward his entire demeanour, what he has done to people".
4. “I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake”
Several of the assembled prospective jurors were clearly set against Shkreli from the get-go, and ready to trust their instincts. As they were addressed by the court, Juror Number 52 said: "When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake."
Shkreli's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, wryly commented: "So much for the presumption of innocence."
5. "He kind of looks like a dick"
Other jurors were less poetic in their judgement of Shkreli's appearance. When asked if they could judge the case with an open mind, Juror Number 144 said: "I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick."
6. “It’s not a far stretch that he could do what he’s accused of”
Although the court was clear to emphasise to jurors that Shkreli's trial was not related to his pricing of drugs or behaviour over unreleased hip-hop albums, this jury selection was one very clear example that past behaviour matters.
"Who does that, puts profit and self-interest ahead of anything else? So it’s not a far stretch that he could do what he’s accused of," said Juror Number 67.
7. “I can be fair to one side but not the other”
The concept of fairness appeared to escape one juror, who claimed they could be "fair to one side but not the other".
"I have total disdain for the man. When you go back to how he was able to put so many children —" Juror Number 70 began, before being cut off by the court.
8. “You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty”
The presumption of innocence was a challenge for several of the jurors, especially Juror Number 77 who thought "the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America". Their statement that “you’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty” earnt the prospective juror a swift dimissal.
9. "I already sense the man is guilty"
Who needs facts when you have intuition? That seemed to be the take of Juror Number 125, who was ready to convict Shkreli of anything.
"I’ve read extensively about Martin’s shameful past and his ripping off sick people and it hits close to me," they said. "I think somebody that’s dealt in those things deserves to go to jail."
The court clarified, saying: "Just to be clear, he’s not being charged with anything relating to the pricing of pharmaceuticals."
Juror Number 125 responded: "I understand that, but I already sense the man is guilty."
10. "The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to"
Other jurors were chomping at the bit to send Shkreli down. Juror Number 10 made a very short appearance before being dismissed, simply stating: "The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to."
It seems as though Juror Number 10 will have got at least part of their wish as Shkreli could be sentenced for up to 20 years, although it is likely that he will serve a much shorter time.
11. "Is he stupid or greedy? I can’t understand"
Juror Number 28 toed the line of almost threatening violence, saying: "I just can’t understand why he would be so stupid as to take an antibiotic which HIV people need and jack it up 5,000 per cent. I would honestly, like, seriously like to go over there –."
The court swiftly intervened, but Juror Number 28 wasn't finished. "Is he stupid or greedy? I can’t understand," he added.
12. "There was something that didn’t look right"
Some jurors had made their mind up simply from seeing a published photograph of Shkreli in the news. "I was looking yesterday in the newspaper and I saw the defendant. There was something about him. I can’t be fair. There was something that didn’t look right," said Juror Number 41. Unsurprisingly, they were quickly dismissed.