Prosecutors pushed back against questions lawyers for FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried's want to pose to potential jurors about the so-called "effective altruism" movement ahead of next month's trial.
The former billionaire's lawyers proposed earlier this week asking jurors about a number of topics, including the social movement centered on the supposed use of resources to help others, body language and political donations.
The questions are a "thinly veiled attempt" to advance a narrative that Bankman-Fried was looking to "improve the world" through his wealth, prosecutors argued on Friday in a filing to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Prior to his downfall and arrest, Bankman-Fried had been a supporter of the social movement that centered on the supposed use of resources to help others.
"Whether or not the defense can establish an admissible purpose for the defendant's purported philanthropic commitments, voir dire is not the appropriate forum to suggest to the jury that the defendant was simply a good guy who wanted to make the world a better place," prosecutors said.
Voir dire refers to the process of picking jurors to serve on the jury panel in a trial.
Bankman-Fried is currently waiting for his Oct. 3 trial in jail after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering. He 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.
A 'sympathetic light'
Bankman-Fried's lawyers also wanted to pose questions around ADHD, referring to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and said it could affect Bankman-Fried's body language, eye contact and physical behavior.
Prosecutors said that questioning would "improperly cast the defendant at the outset of the trial in a sympathetic light."
"The defendant is currently taking medication for his ADHD, which should effectively manage any symptoms. Moreover, the description of the potential visible symptoms of ADHD is both vague and expansive, and invites the defendant to disrupt the trial under the guise of exhibiting symptoms of ADHD," the prosecutor added.
Prosecutors also opposed questions about political donations and lobbying. Bankman-Fried's lawyers proposed asking whether it is wrong for people to donate money to political candidates or lobbying groups to help their interest.
Prosecutors called those questions irrelevant.
"The Government has not suggested, and does not intend to argue, that it is improper, standing alone, to donate large amounts of money to political candidates or to do so to advance one’s interests," they said.
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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