Sam Bankman-Fried Granted Permission to Question DOJ Witnesses on Drug Use
During the pretrial proceedings on Tuesday, Judge Lewis Kaplan, overseeing the case of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, issued several significant rulings. Notably, the judge granted Bankman-Fried's legal team the authority to inquire about recreational drug use among Department of Justice witnesses during the upcoming fraud trial next month.
In a comprehensive 16-page order, Judge Kaplan addressed a range of in limine motions, ultimately allowing the DOJ to introduce specific evidence. Furthermore, he rebuffed the DOJ's attempts to restrict the defense from questioning witnesses about privileged matters. Additionally, he dismissed a request from Bankman-Fried's team to exclude any evidence related to the cryptocurrency exchange's bankruptcy.
Judge Kaplan also declined the DOJ's plea to bar the defense from cross-examining witnesses about their recreational drug use. However, he specified that this subject matter should not be raised in front of the jury without prior notification to the Court and the government.
Judge Kaplan did grant authorization to the DOJ to introduce evidence suggesting that Bankman-Fried not only conceived the FTT token but also instructed Alameda to retain a significant portion of it and supported the token's market manipulation.
He underscored that the alleged manipulation of cryptocurrency tokens, which had an impact on Alameda's financial statements, constitutes an action "done in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy" and is therefore regarded as "part of the very act charged." Furthermore, Bankman-Fried's purported instruction to former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison to manipulate the FTT price serves as direct evidence of their "relationship of mutual trust." Judge Kaplan determined that the evidentiary value of this information outweighs any potential risk of unfair bias, making it admissible.
The judge proposed that specific matters influencing the jury's perspective could be addressed through a jury instruction, which he expressed willingness to consider if requested.
He refrained from making a decision on the defense's motion to introduce evidence indicating that Bankman-Fried's utilization of autodeletion policies on messaging apps was at the direction of the FTX founder's former legal advisors. Furthermore, he denied a DOJ motion to admit specific out-of-court statements from witnesses, although this denial was made without prejudice. The DOJ has the option to attempt to introduce these statements, but the judge stipulated that he needs precise details regarding the content of those statements.
The trial is slated to commence on October 3rd.
Read more: Sam Bankman-Fried's Day: A Bumpy Ride