The jury selection process for Sam Bankman's trial

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The jury selection process for Sam Bankman's trial

Exactly nine months and 20 days after Sam Bankman was arrested in the Bahamas, the founder and former CEO of FTX will stand trial next week in New York federal court on charges related to his involvement in defrauding customers of the exchange.

The case against SBG, with extradition, multiple co-ordinating witnesses, and a plethora of electronic evidence, has been progressing at Usain Bolt's speed.

A case of such size and scale can often take years to go to trial. Before both sides make their opening statements, a jury must be selected. This process, known as voir dire, kicks off tomorrow.

voir dire is the process in which potential jurors from the community are questioned by either the judge or the lawyers to determine their suitability for jury service.

The process is intended to enable both sides and the court to identify jurors who are impartial and unbiased. The judge will also ask questions of potential jurors, including those submitted by government and defense lawyers.

Some questions will be personal in nature, while others will be more substantive to determine whether or not a juror has a connection to the parties in the case or holds a bias for or against the defendant.

For the serious nature of the case, lawyers on both sides can each use ten peremptory challenges to remove jurors from the case.

While the questions for the most part are standard jury selection fare, voir dire is the first time attorneys for both sides will have an opportunity to evaluate the men and women who will decide the case. It also provides an opportunity for government and defense lawyers to subtly Preview their respective cases through their questions.

The seasoned prosecutors and defense lawyers are not just looking for answers but also considering juror body language and other behavioral manifestations of bias.

The first thing the judge will do in the voir dire process is Preview the charges to the courtroom filled with prospective jurors.

The judge will explain the indictment, which is not evidence, alleges that SBF and his co-conspirators defrauded FTX customers and investors and conspired to launder the proceeds of the fraud.

The court will explain that the indictment charges SBF with seven charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud on FTX customers and investors and Alameda lenders.

The indictment also charged SBF with conspiracy to hide the proceeds of the fraud.

Of these charges, only two - wire fraud on FTX customers and Alameda lenders - are substantial, meaning prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that SBF himself actively engaged in the criminal activity.

The remaining five charges are 'conspiracy' charges, meaning the government must prove that SBF planned to commit the crime with at least one other person.

In the proposed jury questions proposed by the Department of Justice, the government asks the court to explain to the jury that 'there is no need to prove that the crime or crimes... actually were committed,' with conspiracy charges, unlike the substantive charges.

This is an important distinction, and the judge will reiterate this point in his jury instructions at the end of the trial.

While all sounds very complicated, prosecutors will likely try to simplify things by presenting evidence that SBF and his co-conspirators intended to commit a massive fraud on customers and investors.

If the government can prove fraud, they are likely to meet their obligation on most or all counts.

SBF's lawyers will argue that, although SBF was sloppy and incompetent, he did not have the criminal intent to defraud customers and investors.

Defense lawyers will argue that SBF has taken various actions 'on advice of counsel,' which could potentially obviate criminal intent.

And it's all expected to happen on just one day.

Over the next few weeks - don't make plans for November - we will see opening statements, hear from myriad witnesses, and be presented with millions of pages of evidence, recordings, and testimony from SBF's inner circle.

This case has moved at unprecedented speed, just nine months and 20 days from arrest and about 11 months from the collapse of FTX. We will see if the trial progresses as quickly as possible, he said.

Ari Redford, a global leader in policy and government affairs for TRM Labs, is the head of the global policy and government affairs division of TRM Labs.