The jury selection process for Sam Bankman-Fried trial

The jury selection process for Sam Bankman-Fried trial

Ari Redford, the head of policy and government affairs at TRM Labs, is the head of the blockchain intelligence firm's global operations. 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 on charges related to his involvement in defrauding customers of the exchange.

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

The trials of cases of this size and scale can typically take years to reach trial. In addition, both sides must select a jury before their opening statements. The process of voir dire will kick off tomorrow.

voir dire is the procedure in which potential jurors from the community are asked 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 select jurors who are impartial and unbiased. The judge will ask questions - including those submitted by government and defence lawyers - of potential jurors during the process.

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 the issue is serious, 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 will be the first time attorneys for both sides have an opportunity to evaluate the men and women who will decide the case.

It gives the opportunity for government and defence lawyers to peek through their questions, allowing for subtly previewing their respective cases.

The seasoned prosecutors and defence lawyers will not only be listening for answers but also evaluate juror body language and other behavioral manifestations of bias.

The courtroom filled with potential jurors is the first thing the judge will do in the voir dire process.

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 has faced seven criminal charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud on FTX customers and investors and Alameda lenders.

The indictment further charges SBF with money laundering conspiracy, which involves trying to hide the proceeds of the fraud.

Of these charges, only two - wire fraud involving 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, which must prove that SBF planned to commit the crime with at least one other person.

The Department of Justice's proposed jury questions require 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 this is 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 is able to prove the fraud, it is likely to meet their obligations on most or all counts.

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

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

And that's all expected on just a day 1.

Over the next few weeks, 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.

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