The jury selection process for Sam Bankman-Fried trial

The jury selection process for Sam Bankman-Fried trial

Ari Redford, the global head of policy and government affairs at TRM Labs, is responsible for the global policy and government affairs of the blockchain-based TRM Labs. Exactly nine months and 20 days after Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas, the founder and former CEO of FTX will stand trial in New York federal court next week on charges related to his involvement in defrauding customers of the exchange.

The SBF case, known as the Bankman-Fried case, has moved at Usain Bolt's speed, with an extradition, multiple cooperating witnesses, and a mountain of electronic evidence.

A case of such size and scale can typically take years to go to trial. In addition, a jury must be selected before both sides make their opening statements. The process, which will begin tomorrow, will be called voir dire.

voir dire is the process where 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 allow both sides and the court to identify jurors who are impartial and unbiased. The judge will ask questions of potential jurors during the process, including those submitted by government and defence lawyers.

Some questions will be personal in nature, while others will be more substantial 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.

If there is a serious case, lawyers on both sides can each use ten peremptory challenges to remove jurors from the case.

While the questions 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 offers a chance for government and defence lawyers to subtly Preview their respective cases through their questions.

The seasoned prosecutors and defense lawyers will not just be listening for answers but also be examining jury body language and other behavioral manifestations of bias.

The first thing the judge will do during 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 SBF is charged 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 pursuing a money laundering conspiracy by attempting to hide the proceeds of the fraud.

Of these charges, only two - wire fraud involving 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 the crime with at least one other person.

The Department of Justice asked 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, rather than 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 this whole 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 is able to prove the 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 this is 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.

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