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Sam Bankman Fried’s Defense Team Seeks Clarity on Bankruptcy and Philanthropy in Trial

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Source: a video screenshot, Forbes Breaking News / YouTube

The defense team representing Sam Bankman-Fried is seeking clarity from the U.S. judge presiding over the case regarding specific arguments they can present during the trial. 

They aim to gain a better understanding of their ability to argue that FTX was not regulated in the United States, while acknowledging that FTX.US did adhere to applicable rules, according to a Monday filing.

Additionally, they are seeking permission for Bankman-Fried to discuss the potential for substantial recoveries by FTX creditors in the ongoing bankruptcy case, as well as the inclusion of his charitable giving and philanthropic activities in the trial.

One of the defense’s concerns is related to the Department of Justice’s intention to introduce evidence related to an alleged illegal campaign finance scheme. 

Earlier this month, Judge Kaplan ruled in favor of the DOJ, granting their motions to prevent Bankman-Fried from making certain arguments during the trial. 

At the time, the judge said that the defense did not object to these motions, a claim FTX lawyer now disputes, arguing that their objections contained arguments and clarifying details in footnotes.

“We therefore respectfully request reconsideration, or, in the alternative, clarification of the Court’s ruling in light of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s opposition to the Government’s request.”

This filing comes on the heels of a ruling by the judge, who determined that Bankman-Fried cannot mention his planned “advice of counsel” defense during his opening arguments. 

Nevertheless, the defense may be allowed to raise these arguments at a later stage, provided they notify the court and the prosecution.

DOJ Aims to Deter Bankman-Fried From Using Mental Disease Defense

The DOJ has also attempted to prevent Bankman-Fried’s attorneys from presenting a mental disease defense, arguing that they were not given proper notice before the deadline.

Last month, the agency argued that questions related to effective altruism were not only unnecessary but also an attempt to shape a defense narrative suggesting that the defendant was accumulating wealth to improve the world. 

They also deemed questions about Bankman-Fried’s ADHD and related medication as irrelevant and prejudicial, emphasizing that no notice of a mental disease or condition defense had been provided within the court’s imposed deadline.

More recently, a series of unpublished tweets belonging to Bankman-Fried has been circulating that indicate the disgraced crypto boss has been discussing his mental health struggles, including mild depression and anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure, since at least December.

Meanwhile, the trial is slated to start on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. ET, with the selection of the jury. 

Prosecutors have indicated that they anticipate this process to conclude within a day, suggesting that opening arguments could potentially begin as early as October 4.

Both Bankman-Fried and the DOJ submitted voir dire questions last month, which were intended to identify if any of the possible jurors are familiar with the case, specifically with crypto or with effective altruism.