The jury selection process in the case of FTX founder

The jury selection process in the case of FTX founder

Ari Redford, the world leader of policy and government affairs at TRM Labs, leads the blockchain intelligence company globally. Exactly nine months and 20 days after Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of FTX, will stand trial in New York federal court next month on charges related to his participation in defrauding customers of the exchange.

The case, known as SBF, has been going on at a snail's pace, with an extradition, multiple cooperating witnesses, and a mountain of electronic evidence.

While cases of this size and scale can typically take years to go through trial, it's typically a matter of years. The jury must be selected before both sides make their opening statements. As of this writing, voir dire will kick off tomorrow.

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 enable both sides and the court to identify jurors who are impartial and unbiased. The judge will be asked questions - including those submitted by government and defence lawyers - of prospective jurors during the process.

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.

Having the serious nature of the case means that 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.

Government and defence lawyers can subtly Preview their respective cases through their questions, allowing them to subtly Preview their respective cases.

The seasoned prosecutors and defence lawyers will also evaluate juror body language and other behavioral manifestations of bias.

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

The court will explain that 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 alleges that SBF tried to cover up the money laundering activities of the fraud.

Of those charges, only two - wire fraud on FTX customers and Alameda lenders - are substantive, 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 proof that SBF planned to commit the crime with at least one other person.

In the Department of Justice's proposed jury questions, 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.

Although the case appears to be very intricate, 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 fraud, they are likely to meet their burden 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 counsel will also argue that SBF took various actions 'on advice of counsel,' which could potentially obviate criminal intent.

And that's all expected 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.

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