Prospective jurors divulged predominantly unfavorable encounters with cryptocurrency investments, while the former FTX CEO, a more slender version sans his trademark curly locks, sat flanked by his legal counsel, observing keenly.
The high-profile trial of ex-FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried commenced on October 3rd, marked by a flurry of activities within and outside the confines of the cramped Manhattan courtroom. Journalists, crypto influencers, and curious onlookers congregated in an overflow media room, diligently documenting the day’s proceedings. Here, we present some vivid impressions from this eventful day.
A Noticeable Transformation: Thinner and Tamed Hair Sam Bankman-Fried, the defendant, appeared noticeably leaner, as multiple reports suggest. Surrounded by a legal team of five, he donned a navy suit that seemed somewhat oversized compared to previous appearances, and his signature unruly curls had been replaced by a neater hairstyle.
Laura Shin of Unchained Crypto observed that Bankman-Fried displayed an uncharacteristic calmness. She noted in an October 3rd podcast, “I did not witness his habitual leg-shaking at all.” His interactions were largely limited to affirming responses to the judge and occasional consultations with his attorneys, punctuated by bouts of typing and scrolling on his air-gapped laptop.
SBF had spent the past seven weeks incarcerated at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. During his unsuccessful bid for release, his legal team claimed he subsisted on a diet of “bread and water,” devoid of vegan meal options.
Crypto Influencer Tiffany Fong remarked, “He appears rather more enigmatic now.”
Journalists, Influencers, and Skeptics Converge at the “Crypto Prom” The first day of the trial evoked comparisons to the anticipation of a new school year, as recounted by some journalists in attendance. “I have never witnessed the courthouse in such a fervor,” commented an anonymous member of the press, according to The Slate.
Nitish Pahwa of The Slate described the scene as resembling a “crypto prom” filled to capacity with a motley assembly of paid media participants, crypto influencers, enthusiasts, skeptics, and more.
Cointelegraph reporter Ana Paula Pereira is also present at the trial and will provide daily updates on the most pivotal developments throughout the proceedings.
Jury Selection: Whittling Down and Tales of Crypto Woes Judge Lewis B. Kaplan initially instructed the burgeoning pool of potential jurors, “You are strictly prohibited from conducting research or reading any press coverage.” However, he adopted a more relaxed stance during the questioning phase, as reported by Cointelegraph.
Prospective jurors were probed about their prior knowledge of FTX and Alameda. One juror mentioned learning about these entities through The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, as per a partial transcript from Inner City Press.
Another juror disclosed a professional association with a company that had invested in (and incurred losses from) FTX and Alameda. Yet another prospective juror confessed, “I invested in crypto and suffered losses.”
One juror expressed reservations about maintaining impartiality towards crypto, stating, “I’ve held negative views about it since I first learned of its existence.” Consequently, this juror was excused from the pool.
In a unique inquiry, a juror sought information from the judge about the severest possible sentence, explicitly disavowing support for the death penalty. Judge Kaplan responded, “We will address that shortly, and my response will suffice. Is everyone willing to accept the court’s judgment?” No objections were raised.
At the conclusion of the session, Judge Kaplan declared, “We have now assembled a sufficient group of qualified jurors, totaling 50.” He clarified that a total of 18 individuals would be selected, comprising 12 jurors and six alternates.
Judge Kaplan further noted that on the following day (October 4th), each juror would have an opportunity to speak for a minute via a shared microphone. Afterward, the attorneys would deliberate, culminating in the final jury selection.