DOJ Slams Sam Bankman-Fried’s ‘Intrusive’ Proposed Jury Questions

In a separate filing, prosecutors went about prepping the courthouse’s tech.

AccessTimeIconSep 15, 2023 at 7:52 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 18, 2023 at 3:23 p.m. UTC

The U.S. Department of Justice thinks FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s proposed jury questions are “unnecessarily intrusive” and may be intended to support his defense.

Bankman-Fried and the DOJ both proposed voir dire questions earlier this week, ranging from standard queries about whether potential jurors were familiar with the case to more specific questions about whether they knew people with ADHD. These questions will help the prosecutor and defense determine a fair and impartial jury.

Several of Bankman-Fried’s proposed questions are “intrusive”, prosecutors wrote in the letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, of the Southern District of New York. They called out questions that probed potential jurors’ opinions toward FTX, the allegedly fraudulent crypto exchange that collapsed in spectacular fashion last November.

“The defense requests numerous open-ended questions about what opinions potential jurors have formed about the case, the defendant, and the defendant’s companies, and asks whether potential jurors can ‘completely ignore’ what they have previously seen,” the letter said. “This is unnecessarily intrusive, and goes beyond the purpose of voir dire.”

Questions about whether effective altruism – Sam Bankman-Fried’s claimed philosophical base – are not just unnecessary, but “are a thinly veiled attempt to advance a defense narrative that the defendant was simply ‘amassing wealth’ in order to ‘improve the world,’” the letter said.

Similarly, questions about ADHD, which Bankman-Fried takes medication for, are “irrelevant and prejudicial,” the filing said.

“The defense is foreclosed from raising a mental disease, defect, or condition defense – no notice of such a defense … was provided by the Court-imposed deadline,” the filing said. “Telling the jury that the defendant has ADHD would serve only to improperly cast the defendant at the outset of the trial in a sympathetic light.”

Trial prep

Prosecutors also have the trial’s tech infrastructure on their minds: They’ve requested a high-speed ethernet connection as well as a printer for the government’s use, plus headphones for the jury. “This will greatly facilitate the effective and efficient presentation of evidence,” they wrote in a letter to Judge Kaplan.

Edited by Danny Nelson.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

Danny Nelson

Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

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