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SCOTT JAGOW: Federal prosecutors surely will go after those people. Today, they're hauling a different lot into court: some New York Stock Exchange traders called specialists. More now from Alisa Roth.

ALISA ROTH: Two specialists go on trial today. The government is accusing them of cheating investors by trading for themselves first. Two of their colleagues have already pleaded guilty to similar charges. Ten more specialists go on trial later this year.

Former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz says the government may have a hard time getting the jury to understand what the problem is.

ROBERT MINTZ: They're going to really have to figure out a way to try to convince them that in fact a crime here was committed as opposed to simply a violation of New York Stock Exchange rules.

In any case, specialists are facing hard times. Hans Stoll directs the financial markets research center at Vanderbilt. He says computers are rapidly replacing these jobs.

HANS STOLL: Ninety percent of the order flow is automated and the specialist is just in there intercepting some of these automated transactions.

If convicted most of the defendants face as much as 20 years in jail.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.