‘Don’t Ever Do That Again:’ Judge Presiding over Sam Bankman-Fried Trial Snaps at Defense Counsel

Sam Bankman-Fried walks to court
Michael M. Santiago /Getty

The judge presiding over the criminal trial of disgraced former FTX CEO and Democrat mega donor Sam Bankman-Fried has lost patience with SBF’s lawyers only three days into the trial.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the high-profile case against Bankman-Fried, repeatedly told the accused crypto fraudster’s lawyers to stop repeating themselves, a tactic that one law professor told the New York Times could “threaten juror concentration.”

“I just want to express my growing concern about the extent of the entirely unnecessary repetition, and I’ve given you a lot of latitude,” Kaplan told one of Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Christian Everdell. “You’re wearing out the welcome on the repetition.”

Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the courthouse

Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the courthouse (Michael M. Santiago/Getty)

The judge is known for his “no-nonsense” attitude in the courtroom; however, the Times explained that Bankman-Fried’s lawyers appear to be on an “unusually short leash.” Although any trial may appear to lean towards the defense or the prosecution, the judge’s admonitions against the defense may not bode well for the former FTX CEO.

Paul Tuchmann, a former federal prosecutor, said, “When the jurors see the judge interrupting one of the lawyers and saying, ‘that’s an improper question, or we’ve covered this already, you’re wasting our time,’ that creates a very big problem for the defendant. The judge is a figure of immense authority for them.”

Kaplan has also upheld objections from the prosecution over the way that defense lawyers have phrased their questions.

“Don’t do that again, Mr. Everdell,” he snapped at one point during the trial.

During a private conference, without the presence of the jury, Kaplan told Bankman-Fried’s lawyers that their questions to one witness were close to violating the ruling that they could not imply investors lost money due to “gullibility and negligence.”

Bankman-Fried stands accused of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering on his alleged use of FTX customer funds to cover the losses of his hedge fund, Alameda Research. He also allegedly used those funds to purchase real estate and cover other personal expenses. Bankman-Fried pled not guilty to all counts and faces up to 110 years in prison.

Last Thursday, one defense lawyer asked Matt Huan, a venture capitalist, several times about his decision to invest in FTX despite the company’s lack of a board of directors.

“You’ve been over this already six ways to Sunday, and you got your answer,” Kaplan said. “The goal here is not to set a record for the longest trial.”

Kaplan also revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail after finding he likely tampered with witnesses at least twice, which included leaking his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison’s diary. Ellison led Alameda Research, the hedge fund associated with FTX.

“He has already — without violating any other bail condition save that he not commit another crime — gone up to the line over and over again,” Kaplan argued when explaining his decision to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail.

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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