On his first day in court, SBF arrived in front of potential jurors with a new look—and mostly focused on his laptop. https://t.co/qC5b5b1z3Z
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) October 3, 2023
Of course the ongoing House speakership chaos is more Serious, but allow me my petty obsessions…
… The cofounder and former CEO of FTX arrived for jury selection with his trademark curly hair cut in a close-cropped style. He also wore a dark suit, white shirt, and tie. Bankman-Fried is being jailed in Brooklyn during his trial after his bail was revoked this summer. He arrived at the courthouse late—“I’m told we can thank the delay to what’s happening in the other courtroom nearby,” Judge Kaplan said in court, evidently referring to the Trump civil trial at a courthouse a block away.
Almost immediately upon entering the courtroom and taking a seat between his two lead lawyers, Bankman-Fried began typing and scrolling on an internet-disabled laptop, occasionally speaking with his lawyers or scratching his head, but mostly focusing on the computer. His screen wasn’t visible from where I was seated, but he appeared to be taking notes…
Prosecutor Nicolas Roos said on Tuesday that “the government never made any plea offers” in the case, a clear explanation for why Bankman-Fried is going to trial instead of pleading out, a risky move for a defendant. About nine in ten federal criminal defendants plead guilty, according to Pew ResearchCenter analysis of federal statistics, while only 0.4% are acquitted at trial.
Bankman-Fried is charged with seven counts of fraud and conspiracy related to FTX, his cryptocurrency exchange, and Alameda Research, his crypto hedge fund, and several former FTX and Alameda executives are expected to testify against him. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is expected to last six weeks.
For much of the day, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan was giving a master class on how not to let anyone out of jury duty. If jurors said they were unable to assess the case impartially, they were dismissed without much questioning. Anyone else? They’d best get ready for some contentious lawyering—giving a preview of how Judge Kaplan will run the high-profile trial…
The potential jurors’ responses also gave a sense of how familiar they were with cryptocurrency—and of the handful who’d dealt directly with it, most weren’t fans. Three had lost money because of it…
“I had an investment in cryptocurrency and I did lose a lot, and my twin brother lost a lot more than me, and it almost ruined him,” one man said.
When another potential juror said “I don’t actually still understand how cryptocurrency works,” Judge Kaplan responded: “You probably have a lot of company in this courtroom.”
Judge Kaplan said he expected to complete jury selection Wednesday morning, with opening arguments to follow.
I just want to remind everyone going into this week that Sam Bankman-Fried is not a kid or a boy or a cherubic golden child lost in the woods. He's a 31 year old man facing 7 felony charges as part of a multi-billion-dollar alleged fraud.
— Jacob Silverman ???? (@SilvermanJacob) October 1, 2023