The jury selection process for Sam Bankman-Fried trial

The jury selection process for Sam Bankman-Fried trial

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

The SBF case, which involved an extradition, multiple cooperating witnesses, and a vast amount of electronic evidence, has moved at Usain Bolt-esque speed.

The trial process for cases of this size and size can take several years to complete. However, before both sides make their opening statements, a jury must be selected. This process, called voir dire, begins 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 ask questions of potential jurors - including those submitted by government and defence lawyers - 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.

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

While the questions for the majority of the cases 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 allows for government and defense 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 evaluating juror body language and other behavioral manifestations of bias.

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

The judge 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 SBF has charged him with seven criminal charges such as wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud on FTX customers and investors and Alameda lenders.

The indictment also accuses SBF of trying to hide the proceeds of the fraud.

Of these 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, meaning the government must prove that SBF planned the crime with at least one other person.

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

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

While this all sounds very complicated, prosecutors are likely to 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 federal government proves the fraud, they are likely to meet their burden on most or all counts.

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

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

And this is all expected on just one day.

Over the next several 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 has gone on at unprecedented pace, with just nine months and 20 days from arrest and about 11 months from the collapse of FTX. We will see if the trial proceeds as quickly as possible, he said.