Judge Lewis Kaplan has outrightly rejected all the witnesses presented by Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense team. The controversial founder of FTX is facing a trial, and Kaplan’s decision aligns with the objections raised by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which contested each proposed witness on the grounds of vagueness or their suitability to testify in a U.S. criminal trial. The defense intended to present a diverse list of witnesses, including British barrister Lawrence Akka, data analysis expert Brian Kim, and academics like Bradley Smith from Capital University Law School.
Limited Options and Legal Loopholes
While Judge Kaplan’s decision was unequivocal in rejecting all proposed witnesses, he left a door open for the defense. They will be able to call upon Thomas Bishop or Brian Kim to counter the testimonies of DOJ’s witnesses, such as an FBI agent or Peter Easton, an expected prosecution witness to discuss client deposits based on FTX’s data analysis. However, this will require the defense to navigate through complex legal requirements. Specifically, the defense will need to file a ‘full Rule 16 disclosure’ at least three days before the intended defense witness is supposed to testify, although the DOJ retains the right to object.
Government Witnesses Face No Obstacles
Unlike the strict restrictions imposed on Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense team, the judge also rejected their motion to block a government witness. This motion aimed to exclude Peter Easton’s testimony, meaning that the prosecution has a good chance of presenting a well-argued case.
Furthermore, the former CEO of FTX will remain in prison after three judges from the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals found the arguments for his release ‘unconvincing’.
The Court has serious doubts about Dr. Vinella’s qualifications as an expert in the field of his proposed testimony.
In a revealing footnote, Judge Kaplan expressed ‘serious doubts’ regarding the qualifications of Dr. Vinella, one of the witnesses proposed by the defense, but clarified that it wasn’t the reason for his exclusion. This footnote casts additional shadows over the defense team’s initial witness selection, suggesting that the legal team is facing a tough battle to ensure a strong defense for SBF.