Sam Bankman-Fried smiles as he arrives for trial

Sam Bankman-Fried smiles as he arrives for trial

Sam Bankman-Fried had a grin on his face when he entered the court on Tuesday morning, dressed in a black suit and an uncharacteristically tame mop of hair. After nine months, the disgraced crypto investor will finally have the chance to defend himself against a variety of federal fraud and conspiracy charges related to the collapse of FTX, his crypto trading firm and Alameda Research, the crypto trading firm he founded and, according to prosecutors, used to illegally re-invest FTX user funds.

The first day of the trial was all about voir dire, the process by which a judge, defense, and prosecution worked together to filter more than 80 New Yorkers to a final group of 12 jurors and six alternates. Judge Lewis Kaplan, the judge overseeing the case, peppered the jury pool with questions.

Underscoring the trial's location in the heart of New York's financial district - and the size of Bankman-Fried's once-giant crypto empire - the initial list of potential jurors included people whose professions overlapped with Alameda and FTX. One potential juror said she had worked at Signature, the crypto-friendly bank that collapsed earlier this year and had ties to Alameda and FTX. Another member of the jury pool said her employer had invested directly in Alameda and FTX.

When Kaplan asked if anyone in the room had seen a recent 60 Minutes segment - an interview with author Michael Lewis about his recently released book about the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried - at least seven jurors raised their hands.

Bankman-Fried sat between his attorneys throughout the bulk of the jury selection process. He spent much of his time pecking away at a laptop keyboard. His attorneys had previously expressed their concerns that he would not have enough time to review materials or otherwise work on his defense after his bond was revoked in August and he was sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center.

His mood from the court's overflow rooms - where the press was sequestered - appeared to range from neutral to positive. While he hammered some potential jurors who appeared to be trying very hard to avoid serving for the trial, the Judge himself cracked a few jokes during the jury selection process. One prospect tried three different sets of excuses - none of which appeared to convince the judge.

Bankman-Fried also spoke to Bankman-Fried directly at the beginning of the day, letting the FTX founder know he had the right to testify in his own defense - even if his attorneys didn't expect or plan for him to do so.

Jury selection should end Wednesday, said Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the trial in the Southern District of New York. There are around 50 potential jurors who are still on trial after he dismissed a few dozen during yesterday's voir dire. Of the rest, 12 will become jurors and six will be named alternates, potentially as soon as later Wednesday morning.