Sam Bankman-Fried May Testify at Trial, Defense Says. First, He Needs His ADHD Meds

The defense team is nearing crunch time.

AccessTimeIconOct 16, 2023 at 3:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Oct 16, 2023 at 3:51 p.m. UTC

Sam Bankman-Fried might take the stand in his criminal trial, his defense hinted in a filing late Sunday. But his persistent lack of access to adequate medication for ADHD is complicating their decision on how to proceed.

In a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, defense attorney Mark Cohen said his client “has been doing his best to remain focused during the trial” despite receiving inadequate doses of Adderall from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

“However, as we approach the defense case and the critical decision of whether Mr. Bankman-Fried will testify, the defense has a growing concern that because of Mr. Bankman-Fried's lack of access to Adderall he has not been able to concentrate at the level he ordinarily would and that he will not be able to meaningfully participate in the presentation of the defense case,” Cohen wrote.

Prosecutors estimate they will wrap up their case at midday on Oct. 26, at which point the criminal fraud trial will turn to the defense team – if they present a case at all. Signs point to them doing so, but it remains an open question as to whether Bankman-Fried will take the stand.

Bankman-Fried’s struggle to secure his prescribed medication while in federal custody highlights how the bureaucracy of justice works against defendants. His lawyers have been fighting to get the former FTX CEO his full doses of Adderall since he was remanded in August. Their early efforts were successful but things have become more difficult during the trial, and the BOP is ignoring their repeated calls and emails.

Now the criminal defendant receives a morning dose of Adderall that has worn off by the time the jury walks into the courtroom, and nothing again until he returns to Brooklyn lockup at night, Cohen said. He’s supposed to get three to four doses of Adderall a day.

Cohen said Bankman-Fried will receive an extended release dose from the BOP every morning but warned “there is no way of knowing” how effective it will be – or if the BOP will even give it. If that doesn’t work, Cohen proposed the trial adjourn for one day to figure things out, and asked for permission to provide Bankman-Fried his medicine himself as an alternative option.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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Danny Nelson

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