Although defendants in his position are usually advised not to take the stand, SBF will attempt to convince the jury that he was acting in good faith.
Defendants in high-profile white-collar criminal cases have traditionally preferred to remain silent, pleading the 5th Amendment in order to avoid self-incrimination. However, in recent years, certain defendants – such as Elizabeth Holmes – have bucked the trend.
Case May Be Over By Next Week
On a conference call that recently took place between SBF’s lawyers, Judge Kaplan, and the prosecution, it was decided that the Judge would schedule the defense’s testimony starting on the 26th of October, right after the prosecution’s closing statements.
Although some involved hoped that the trial would be over by Monday, this seems unrealistic, given the possible need for cross-examination.
On the call, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, informed Judge Kaplan that the defense would have three witnesses – as well as SBF himself – testify. SBF’s testimony, according to Cohen, is expected to take up a similar amount of time as the testimonies of his former C-suite colleagues.
The other witnesses in question are a Bahamas-based attorney, an unnamed individual who would explain the responsibilities and job titles at FTX, and PF2 Securities litigation consultant Joseph Pimbley. Pimbley, as well as other proposed witnesses, was originally barred from testifying by a motion submitted by the prosecution.
Former federal prosecutor Josh Naftalis commented on the case, opining that this is SBF’s last chance to attempt to convince the jury that the FTX Empire only collapsed because things got out of hand and that he had no ill intentions.
“We’re in the last innings, and, to switch metaphors, this is his Hail Mary. This is his opportunity to say, “I didn’t intend to do anything wrong, I wasn’t acting in bad faith. I was acting in good faith, things just got out of control. It’s really hard for any defendant to explain to a jury what’s in their head unless they take the stand.”
However, SBF has a habit of explaining what’s in his head in a manner that often does not portray him in a favorable light. It’s anybody’s guess whether this time things will go differently. Even if he manages to convince one juror of his innocence – which in jury trials may usually be enough to secure a better verdict – SBF’s trial is a bit different.
SBF’s fate will be decided by a special verdict. Unlike typical jury trials – in which a hung jury is often enough to prevent jail time so long as the jury’s opinion is not unanimous – in special verdicts, the Judge decides what the jury answers and draws legal implications from those answers.
According to a six-page letter sent by his lawyers to the Judge, SBF plans to put the blame on the legal team representing him and his empire.
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