Looking at Sam Bankman-Fried's Appeals Process

Bankman-Fried has 91 days to file a brief

AccessTimeIconApr 17, 2024 at 4:25 a.m. UTC

This week on "Nik learns legal processes": Here's what to expect with Sam Bankman-Fried's appeal of his conviction last year.

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Appeals process

As expected, Sam Bankman-Fried's legal team filed a notice of his intent to appeal his conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges. So far all we have is just the notice – the actual brief won't come for some time yet.

Martin Auerbach, of counsel with Withers Bergman, told CoinDesk that Bankman-Fried's legal team must file the brief within 91 days of his receiving the completed transcript from the hearing.

The Department of Justice would likewise have 91 days in which to file its opposition, and Bankman-Fried's team will have another three weeks to file a reply.

"Skilled appellate counsel – which SBF has – will scour the record for any procedural or substantive issue that offers hope on appeal," he said. "The review of the record will presumably focus first on those issues on which [Bankman-Fried's] trial counsel specifically objected and noted, preserving their objections."

They may also look at areas where they could argue that "'plain error' occurred affecting 'substantial rights,'" which would be an issue the appeals court may take up.

"The focus here will likely be on novel substantive and procedural rulings by the court that an appellate court might see as significant," he said.

Another possible option would be for Bankman-Fried's appeal attorneys to argue "ineffective assistance of counsel," though Auerbach said this option was "rarely if ever made."

Bankman-Fried's team is likely to request an oral argument as well – though really, either party could – and the Court of Appeals must hold a hearing should that happen.

"It is unlikely that oral argument will be heard less than nine months from now, since the Court of Appeals will want to fully review the briefs and the record before the hearing," he said. "Once oral argument has been held, the Court can and will take as much time as it needs to reach a thorough and carefully reasoned decision."

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  • 9:00 UTC (11:00 a.m. CEST) Germany's Federal Financial Supervisory Authority and central bank will hold a joint briefing on the regulation of crypto assets.


  • (Arkansas Times) Arkansas lawmakers are considering a set of bills that would overturn or restrict a previous law that allowed bitcoin miners to expand in the state, citing concerns about noise pollution and water and electricity usage.
  • (The New York Times) The Times wrote about large language models' data needs. One interesting detail: Google changed its terms of service in a way that might allow it to train its own models on publicly-available material.
  • (TechCrunch) Some ransomware gang tried to exploit a company and blackmail them by calling the front desk. Unfortunately, they got Beth.
  • (CNN) The House of Representatives passed a bill reauthorizing government surveillance tools, after a failed vote earlier last week.
  • (Kansas Reflector) So this was a pretty weird story. Earlier this month the Kansas Reflector published an opinion piece about Meta (formerly Facebook) blocking the promotion of a documentary about climate change. Then, it blocked the piece about the blocking. Then, it blocked all links to the Kansas Reflector. A day later, it blocked two other sites that included the piece, which was critical of Meta. And apparently, an "unrefined artificial intelligence" tool may have been responsible for a domain-level blocking.
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See ya’ll next week!


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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.