With SBF’s trial due to start in less than a week, the court has released guidelines for admissible evidence, both for the prosecution and the defense.
The vast majority of requests from the government’s side were granted, with some notable exceptions. Meanwhile, none of the defense’s requests for preclusion were accepted.
Excessive Evidence Defense Denied
One of Sam Bankman-Fried’s recurrent complaints made during pre-trial hearings was that the mountain of evidence submitted by the prosecution was impossible to comb through adequately, leaving him unable to properly defend himself in court. Naturally, the evidence file would probably be significantly smaller had internal FTX guidelines regarding business data been more in line with those of other businesses.
That being said, the government has denied SBF’s motion to dismiss extra evidence, citing their adherence to the Brady & Giglio guidelines.
SBF’s legal team also requested that their defense strategy be allowed to include arguments that bankruptcy was unnecessary. This was denied, citing SBF’s attempts to mess with the bankruptcy estate, among other reasons.
A third request sought to eliminate FTX.US public statements and promotional materials as evidence. This request was also denied, as the statements and ads in question could have easily led people to believe that they apply to FTX as well, not just FTX.US.
One of the only pieces of good news for the defense is that the judge has decided to allow cross-examination of prosecution witnesses regarding recreational drug use – which lines up with SBF’s previous attempts at dismissing Ellison and others as unreliable sources. Out-of-court statements made by SBF’s co-conspirators are also off the table for now, as the denial of these statements as admissible evidence was made without prejudice.
What’s Off The Table for SBF?
The document opens up with a salvo, affirming evidence of price manipulation, bribery, campaign financing, and attempted cover-up of evidence as admissible.
“Such evidence is intertwined inextricably with the evidence regarding the charged wire fraud scheme on customers of FTX and necessary to complete the story of the charged crimes on trial. Evidence that the defendant spent FTX customer funds on political contributions is direct evidence of the wire fraud scheme because it is relevant to establishing the defendant’s motive and allegedly fraudulent intent.”
SBF is also barred from making any arguments based on the incompetence and/or negligence of investors and creditors. According to the document, the (lack of) qualities in a fraud victim has no bearing on the situation since the malevolent intent on the side of the fraudster remains.
“Such evidence routinely is excluded from trials on wire and mail fraud charges because “reliance is not an element of criminal fraud,” and “the unreasonableness of a fraud victim in relying (or not) on a misrepresentation does not bear on a defendant’s criminal intent.”
SBF will also have to refrain from making arguments indicating that his actions were in line with those of other crypto exchanges. This includes throwing the blame for the FTX meltdown on regulators and their actions.
Lastly, the former FTX CEO will not be allowed to throw himself a pity party. All testimony regarding his pre-trial detention or his philanthropic activities will be dismissed as irrelevant.
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