2 Small Wins For Sam Bankman-Fried

Bankman-Fried had a few small wins in court, but his big challenge – securing a temporary release – may be decided later today.

AccessTimeIconSep 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 28, 2023 at 5:48 p.m. UTC

Wednesdays may become Sam Bankman-Fried’s new favorite day.

After multiple consecutive setbacks for the former FTX CEO and his defense team, Judge Lewis Kaplan seemed to have been in a slightly more generous mood yesterday.

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The once-celebrated crypto mogul will be able to use an “air-gapped” laptop to take notes while in court during the entirety of his trial, which starts on Oct. 3 in New York City, the judge said in a ruling. Because today is Friday junior, I will spare you the Google search for what that means.

Since the laptop is “air-gapped,” Bankman-Fried will have no connection to the internet or local area networks. The computer is physically isolated from unsecured networks, which also means that data can only be uploaded through the computer via USB and the like – in other words, Bankman-Fried will have no way of messaging with reporters or attempting to contact witnesses. All he is able to do is take notes.

Judge Kaplan also ruled that Bankman-Fried can wear suits in the courthouse, as opposed to his prison uniform, which he had worn to some court hearings since being remanded into custody in August. This may help with potential bias from jurors who might unconsciously perceive the FTX founder as an already convicted criminal just by his look if he wore the beige prison garb.

Even though this week marked three wins for Bankman-Fried’s team – Judge Kaplan on Tuesday said he will let Bankman-Fried’s lawyers ask some of the Department of Justice’s witnesses about their recreational drug use and other questions tied to their running of FTX and Alameda Research – these motions seem to be a lot less significant than some of the requests that the defense team had filed that had been denied.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, for example, are still fighting to release the FTX founder for the duration of his trial to ensure fairness. Judge Kaplan had previously denied the defense’s motion to release him ahead of his trial. The prosecution late on Wednesday afternoon opposed the latest motion, saying that it “largely recycles the defendant’s generalized claims regarding the manner in which he would like to assist his counsel in his defense,” it said in a filing.

There will be a hearing at 10:00 a.m. ET today on the motion.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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Helene Braun

Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.