Judge in Bankman-Fried trial prods defense lawyers on repetitive questions, appears irritated
A judge overseeing the criminal fraud trial of FTX founder Samuel Bankman-Fried has told defense lawyers multiple times to stop repeating themselves, telling one of them in a sidebar that he doesn’t have to “set a record for the longest trial.” Photo by Seth Wenig/The Associated Press.
A judge overseeing the criminal fraud trial of FTX founder Samuel Bankman-Fried has told defense lawyers multiple times to stop repeating themselves, telling one of them in a sidebar that he doesn’t have to "set a record for the longest trial."
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of New York City “is keeping the defense on an unusually short leash” during testimony that began last week, the New York Times reports. Kaplan has upheld prosecution objections over defense counsel phrasing, disrupting questioning by the defense lawyers, and appearing at least once “to grow irritated,” the newspaper reports.
According to Reuters, Kaplan is “known for his no-nonsense demeanor in the courtroom,” although he has punctuated the proceedings “with witty comebacks and the occasional self-deprecating quip.”
The warnings to defense lawyers are intended to move the trial along, according to Kaplan, a graduate of Harvard Law School.
During the sidebar, Kaplan scolded a defense lawyer for repeatedly questioning a prosecution witness about his decision to invest in FTX, the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange founded by Bankman-Fried. The defendant is accused in a scheme to steal billions of dollars in customer funds.
“You’ve been over this already six ways to Sunday, and you got your answer,” Kaplan told the lawyer, according to Reuters. “The goal here is not to set a record for the longest trial.”
Kaplan warned defense lawyers in the sidebar about violating a pretrial ruling banning suggestions that investors lost money because of “gullibility and negligence,” according to the New York Times.
Kaplan has also asked for briefs on the “buried facts doctrine,” which holds that corporate disclosures are insufficient if they are conveyed in “opaque language” or buried “in a lengthy document filled with legalese,” according to the New York Times.
One expert, former federal prosecutor Paul Tuchmann, told the New York Times that Kaplan’s focus on the buried facts doctrine “is an ominous thing for the defense.”
Bankman-Fried is accused of touting FTX as a safe platform for crypto asset trading while diverting investor money to his privately held hedge fund. The charges against him include fraud and conspiracy.