In a recent ruling, a federal judge overseeing the case of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, stated that Bankman-Fried cannot blame FTX’s lawyers for the company’s collapse or operational decisions in his opening statements. Bankman-Fried’s defense team had previously announced their intention to argue that FTX’s counsel was involved in certain decisions made by the company. However, the judge ruled that this argument, without specific details, could confuse or bias the jury. While the defense team cannot refer to external counsel during the opening statement, they may raise the issue later if they notify the judge and the Department of Justice (DOJ) without jurors present.
Bankman-Fried’s defense team planned to argue that both FTX’s in-house attorneys and lawyers from Fenwick & West were involved in decisions such as using auto-deleting messaging services, creating various entities, establishing banking relationships, providing loans to executives, and determining FTX’s terms of service. However, the DOJ argued that the defense team had not provided enough detail on this argument. The judge’s ruling highlighted questions about attorney involvement and whether it would be appropriate to present evidence suggesting attorneys had approved certain actions. Ultimately, the judge emphasized that the extent to which the defendant can argue or present evidence on attorney involvement will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is set to begin on October 3 with jury selection taking place.