SBF lawyers want to quiz jurors on thoughts about crypto, body language

Quick Take

  • Sam Bankman-Fried has been a supporter of effective altruism, which hinges on using resources to help others, and his lawyers want to know what jurors think of the movement. 
  • The former billionaire faces an Oct. 3 criminal trial and has to stay in jail as that approaches, a judge ruled on Tuesday after his lawyers requested pre-trial release.

Lawyers for former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried want to know if potential jurors for his upcoming criminal trial have any opinions about cryptocurrency, body language, and effective altruism.

Proposed questions for jurors were submitted on Monday to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ahead of an early October trial that could last about six weeks. Prior to his downfall and arrest, Bankman-Fried had been a supporter of the so-called effective altruism social movement that centered on the supposed use of resources to help others. 

"Do you have any negative opinion about amassing wealth to support causes to improve the world or help others? If so, what is your opinion and why?" lawyers for Bankman-Fried posed. 

Bankman-Fried is currently waiting for his Oct. 3 trial in jail after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering. His lawyers tried to get him released before the trial, but that was denied on Tuesday.

"Whatever time pressure defendant now claims to face given the imminence of the trial date and the claimed limitations on his access to ESI [electronically stored discovery and other material] while incarcerated largely would be of his own making," Judge Lewis Kaplan said in a statement. 

Body language

Lawyers for the former billionaire also want to know what jurors think about cryptocurrency and posed questions including whether they have bought or sold crypto, and whether they have a negative bias against the industry.

"If a company involved in the cryptocurrency industry or the financial industry fails, do you feel that only the owners of the company must be to blame?" lawyers asked.

They also posed questions around ADHD, referring to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and said it could affect Bankman-Fried's body language, eye contact and physical behavior.

"If you have never had any personal or professional experience with ADHD, do you have any opinion about the fact that the defendant has ADHD?” they asked. 

Prosecutors also filed their proposed questions for potential jurors on Monday, asking questions about whether they have invested in crypto and if they have opinions on "government’s role or regulation concerning crypto."

The former FTX CEO faces over 100 years in prison if he is convicted of a slew of charges, including fraud, over allegations that he and other FTX executives used billions of customer assets to make their own failed investments. FTX filed for bankruptcy late last year.

Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

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