Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin next month, but he is already racking up a series of legal losses.
The latest: On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan excluded testimony from all seven of the disgraced wunderkind’s expert witnesses. He simultaneously denied Bankman-Fried’s motion to exclude one of the government’s witnesses.
Kaplan rejected the testimony for multiple reasons, including because their disclosures were inadequate, they sought to improperly give the jury legal instructions, or their statements would have involved “semantic camouflage” to influence jurors about Bankman-Fried’s state of mind.
Kaplan also expressed “serious doubts” about at least one of the witness’ qualifications, though those concerns became moot when his testimony was excluded altogether.
Some of the individuals could potentially still be called to testify in response to government witnesses—assuming their expertise becomes relevant and necessary—and on areas not precluded by Kaplan.
Prosecutors submitted their motion to block the testimony last month in a 45-page filing that argued some of the witnesses’ disclosures failed “at the most basic level to set forth the opinions of the expert.” Even when the disclosures were complete, they continued, the opinions were “inappropriate subjects for expert testimony, lack[ed] a reliable methodology or basis in facts and data, or [were] irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, and confusing.”
Bankman-Fried’s attorneys fired back, arguing that their witnesses were “highly qualified” and that “none of the proposed testimony would be unduly prejudicial.” Kaplan disagreed.
Bankman-Fried is jailed in Brooklyn in advance of his trial. He had been under home confinement at his parents’ house in California until he angered both prosecutors and the judge with his antics, including the leak of private writings by his ex-girlfriend and former colleague Caroline Ellison.
Following Kaplan’s ruling, Bankman-Fried’s day got even worse when an appeals court affirmed the decision to keep him locked up.