Judge Approves DOJ's Request to Prevent SBF's Witnesses from Testifying
A United States judge has granted approval to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent all witnesses proposed by Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the founder and former CEO of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, from testifying in his upcoming trial.
In an order filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Lewis Kaplan excluded the testimonies of the witnesses put forth by SBF while denying the former CEO's motion to bar the DOJ's witness.
Witnesses Proposed by SBF Disallowed
In late the previous month, the DOJ filed a motion seeking the dismissal of seven expert witnesses proposed by SBF's legal team. The DOJ argued that their opinions might confuse the jury, were not suitable subjects for expert testimony, and lacked relevance to the trial's matters.
The list of proposed expert witnesses included Lawrence Akka, Thomas Bishop, Brian Kim, Joseph Pimbley, Bradley Smith, Peter Vinella, and Andrew Di Wu. Their intended roles were to provide general opinions on various subjects.
However, Judge Kaplan has sided with the Department of Justice, stating that there are insufficient grounds and reasons for SBF's witnesses to testify. The judge particularly noted that Bishop and Kim failed to meet the requirements to qualify as witnesses because their disclosures did not specify the particular opinions they intended to express.
Smith's proposed testimony was rejected due to his disclosure statement lacking any opinions, the ambiguity of the substance he intended to convey, and its irrelevance to the trial's issues. The judge also deemed Smith's testimony inappropriate because it sought to instruct the jury on legal matters.
Furthermore, Judge Kaplan found no justifications for the proposed testimonies of Akka, Pimbley, and Vinella, deeming them unqualified to testify on the subject matter. He concurred with the DOJ's characterization of Wu's proposed testimony as mere narration, which could potentially confuse and mislead the jury.
DOJ's Witness Approved for Testimony
Despite barring SBF's proposed witnesses, Judge Kaplan rejected the alleged fraudulent activities' motion to exclude the DOJ's expert witness, Peter Easton, from testifying. The judge described SBF's objections to the proposed witness as lacking merit, being moot, and significantly narrow in scope.
"Mr. Easton appropriately may testify about customer fiat deposits as described in his Rule 16 disclosure and the government’s papers. Mr. Easton’s anticipated testimony is the product of specialized knowledge and reliable methodology and does not constitute improper narration," the judge stated.