Oct 26, 2023

Sam Bankman-Fried will take the stand in his own defense, which could happen as soon as Thursday.

Video transcript

The state of crypto is presented by Tron connecting the world to the power of Cryptocurrency. Sam Bateman Fried will take the stand in his own defense. His team says his testimony could start as soon as today. Joining us. Now to discuss is Lowenstein Sandler partner Rachel Maman. Welcome to the show, Rachel. Thank you so much for having me. All right, you specialize in white collar criminal defense and our former A USA in the southern district of New York. And you've joined first mover before and you actually told us that you think that Sam Baman Fried should take the stand, talk to us about what you're expecting. He's gonna take the stand. Now, what do you think we're going to see? Well, that's the question of the hour. Are you going to see somebody who's been coached and uh respectful and listens to what his lawyers direct him to do or are you going to see someone who's basically gone rogue, which is essentially what he did. Um That ended up landing him in jail at pretrial. So it really depends on whether or not I think he listens to his lawyers. He, he didn't just go rogue. Oh, I'm sorry, I was just gonna say he didn't just go rogue. Pretrial. There were several instances when he spoke out doing all these interviews after the, uh, charges started. And, and so if you're an attorney, what are you doing? And, and can any of those, uh, statements be used against him? Now as he, as he goes on trial? I, I can't think of a situation where any prior statement he's made cannot be used to cross examine him. Uh, uh, especially once he's opened the door by taking the stand. He's every, all of those statements are going to come back to either help or haunt him or both. What do you think? Help me? I think that it really depends on how his personality comes across. I think 90% of this is about personality and humanizing him as opposed to substance. So if he comes across in an arrogant way, then it's gonna go poorly and the cross examination is gonna be brutal, it's going to be a brutal cross examination no matter what. But if he appears to be someone who acts in good faith, which is essentially his defense, then I think that can go a long way towards convincing a jury even in a case like this where there's overwhelming evidence. How likely is it in a case like this, that the jury uh are accessing social media or watching news shows like this? Um What do you think I think there's very low likelihood. First of all, the jury is instructed every single day that they are not permitted to look at social media or at any other media coverage that's remotely related to it. And jurors tend to take their duties very seriously. Uh If they don't, uh it often comes out because one juror will tell another and that juror will tell the judge that's happened in the past to me and some of my colleagues. So these jurors take their jobs very seriously and if Judge Kaplan is telling them, don't watch TV, they won't watch TV. So lucky. Um So how, how, how does this play out? And in terms of uh you know, you mentioned it's going to humanize him and things like that. So how, how if you were his defense lawyer? Um and you say that it was done in good faith, how I just kind of flesh that out a little bit. How do, how should we expect them to? Uh And, and I know you're not there every day and you're not seeing the day to day uh combat if you will. But uh how, how would you, how would you try to coach him? And, and what would you say to him? Well, first of all, my main goal would be to totally re portray him and reorient the jury. So right now, they, they only know him through the testimony of cooperators and through maybe written statements and oral statements that have come into evidence. I would go back to the beginning, talk about his life, him as a human being, get them to understand where he was coming from. And then I would instruct him to in as simple and respectful and non arrogant a way as possible describe how he made me made mistakes but didn't do them intentionally. He can't deny all of the offense conduct. It's really has to do with, did he intend to do fraud? And that's, that's the sole purpose of his testimony. And does that actually work? I mean, have you ever seen a, a, uh, uh, uh, somebody come up in their defense and totally change the juror's opinion of them or, or their public persona all of a sudden once they're on the stand, well, juries can be surprising. So I wouldn't presume anything about what the jury currently thinks about him. I mean, having spoken to jurors before, you would be surprised about the impressions that, uh, defendants and lawyers make in the courtroom, even if they're trying to do otherwise. But, um, I, I think it, it really, you know, it depends on, on how he behaves. Is he respectful? He has to be respectful of both the government and his own lawyers. Um, he should be probably somewhat remorseful, I would think at what happened because there's no doubt that there were investors harmed by what happened. The question is, is simply just did he intend to do it. And yes, I have absolutely seen, including in my first trial ever, a jury, um, in the face of overwhelming evidence, acquit a defendant who cried on the stand and showed a lot of human emotion. And I'm fairly certain that, that had a big impact on things. Give us some insight here. How will the prosecution and defense be watching the jury? How will they be measuring sentiment and how might they be adjusting their strategy? Especially as Sam takes the stand, they won't be because it's purely reading tea leaves. I, we always, it's hard to avoid looking at the jury and trying to imagine what they're saying. And some people have certain facial expressions that they always wear um an angry facial expression or a bored facial expression. And those are the people who are most excited about the case in the end and who you know, are, are most positive about the government's evidence. So they can't read the tea leaves by looking at what the jury is saying. They have to make their decisions based upon what they think is the most effective legal strategy.

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