The US Department of Justice has expressed concerns over the proposed jury questions put forth by Sam Bankman-Fried, suggesting that they may be unnecessarily intrusive and potentially intended to support his defense.
In a letter addressed to Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, prosecutors claimed that several Bankman-Fried’s proposed questions were intrusive.
They specifically called out queries that delved into potential jurors’ opinions regarding FTX, the crypto exchange that collapsed under allegations of fraud in November last year.
“The defense requests numerous open-ended questions about what opinions potential jurors have formed about the case, the defendant, and the defendant’s companies, and asks whether potential jurors can ‘completely ignore’ what they have previously seen. This is unnecessarily intrusive and goes beyond the purpose of voir dire.”
Prosecutors Consider Questions Regarding Altruism Unnecessary
Prosecutors argued that questions related to effective altruism, which Bankman-Fried claims as his philosophical base, were not only unnecessary but also an attempt to shape a defense narrative suggesting that the defendant was accumulating wealth to improve the world.
They also deemed questions about Bankman-Fried’s ADHD and related medication as irrelevant and prejudicial, emphasizing that no notice of a mental disease or condition defense had been provided within the court’s imposed deadline.
Furthermore, the prosecution has requested specific technological arrangements for the trial, including a high-speed ethernet connection, a printer for government use, and headphones for the jury.
These provisions, as outlined in their letter to Judge Kaplan, are intended to facilitate the effective and efficient presentation of evidence during the proceedings.
Both Bankman-Fried and the DOJ submitted voir dire questions last week, where were intended to identify if any of the possible jurors are familiar with the case, specifically with crypto or with effective altruism.
One of the suggested questions asked “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?”
The proposed questionnaire also included questions about jurors’ knowledge of FTX and Bankman-Fried, their experience with crypto trading, their opinions on “amassing wealth to improve the world and help others,” and whether they have any experience with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The trial against the former exchange boss is set to begin on October 3, with Judge Lewis A. Kaplan overseeing the jury selection process.
Earlier this month, Bankman-Fried’s legal team once again requested a pre-trial release for their client due to poor internet access in the federal jail that prevents him from properly preparing for the trial.
“Despite the government’s efforts, there does not appear to be a way to solve the internet access problem in the cellblock. The defendant cannot prepare for trial with these kinds of limitations,” SBF’s lawyers wrote in the request.