ceLawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried, the former chief executive of the FTX platform, have filed for interim release in US District Court. They insist that their client be able to meet with his lawyers more frequently in order to prepare his defense strategy for his next trial.
Application for provisional release in order to prepare a defensive strategy
Sam Bankman-Fried is only allowed to meet with his lawyers two days a week in a courthouse room. His lawyers believe that this time is insufficient compared to the seven days a week he previously spent preparing for his trial scheduled for October 2023. In a letter dated August 25, the lawyers said:
To effectively prepare his defense strategy, Mr Bankman-Fried needs permanent access to a computer connected to the Internet, in particular to carry out online research and examine the documents of the proceedings, in addition to being able to communicate properly with his lawyers.
They also pointed out that the laptop provided to Sam Bankman-Fried had limited battery life and there was no power outlet in his cell to charge it. In addition, the Internet connection available to him was particularly weak. Before his detention, Sam Bankman-Fried devoted between 80 and 100 hours a week to his defense.
Does the Department of Justice want to prevent experts from testifying?
A new motion has been filed in New York courts by the US Department of Justice to bar all experts named by Sam Bankman-Fried, aka SBF, fallen founder of FTX, from testifying at his trial. SBF’s lawyers want to exclude a single witness proposed by the Ministry of Justice, an expert in financial analysis.
In total, seven “experts” were dismissed by the Department Of Justice, including Lawrence Akka, a British lawyer, Thomas Bishop and Joseph Pimbley, working in consulting firms, Brian Kim, an expert in data analysis and forensic medicine, Bradley Smith, professor of law, Andrew Di Wu, assistant professor, and Peter Vinella, presented as an expert in financial services.
The reasons for these rejections are various? Lawrence Akka’s testimony should be refused because it concerns the legal definition of the notion of “trust”, a responsibility that normally rests with the judge. The depositions of Brian Kim and Thomas Bishop do not provide sufficient detail on the added value of their testimonies, outside of general topics, which is also prohibited. The testimony of law professor Bradley Smith is considered superfluous because it evokes facts that are not included in the indictments. Joseph Pimbley, as a potential expert on FTX’s code, is also deemed unnecessary.
For their part, Gary Wang and Nishad Singh, who participated in writing the FTX code, will be called to testify by the government during the trial. They are competent witnesses to talk about the code, according to the DOJ filing. The latter seems to want to firmly thwart a possible attempt at deception on the part of SBF. At least, Peter Vinella’s refusal to testify is also justified by the DOJ, which considers that he does not have enough experience or expertise in the field of cryptocurrencies.
Application for release: for which procedure?
When a person is remanded in custody, it is possible to file a request for release. However, release is not a right for the person concerned, but an option for the judge. The request for release can be made at any time during the procedure. The detained person or his lawyer may submit a request for release by sending a declaration to the clerk of the competent court. This request can also be made to the head of the prison establishment, who will forward it to the clerk.
Once the request has been received, the investigating judge communicates the procedure to the public prosecutor so that he can take his requisitions on the release. The investigating judge can then decide to accept the request and order the release of the detained person, or send the file and his reasoned opinion to the judge of freedoms and detention.
The liberty and detention judge must rule within three days. If he does not render a decision within this period, it is possible to refer the request for release directly to the investigating chamber. The latter then has 20 days to decide. If this deadline is not respected, the person is automatically released.
Release may be ordered when the conditions of pre-trial detention are no longer met or when the pre-trial detention exceeds a reasonable period. When granted, release may be accompanied by measures of judicial control. In the event of refusal of release, it is possible to appeal against the decision before the investigating chamber. The appeal must be lodged within ten days of notification of the decision. The civil party does not have the right of appeal in matters of detention.
To sum up, Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers continue to ask for his provisional release in order to prepare his defense strategy. For their part, the US Department of Justice is seeking to prevent experts appointed by SBF from testifying at his trial. The application for release may be filed at any time during the proceedings and may be granted when the conditions for pre-trial detention are no longer met or when the detention exceeds a reasonable period. In the event of refusal of release, it is possible to appeal against the decision before the investigating chamber.