Sam Bankman-Fried’s legal representatives have made a fresh request in the hopes of securing his “temporary release” from custody or ensuring that he will be able to meet with his defense team five days per week. The motion is based on his right to actively contribute to the preparation of his defense.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team argued in a filing that they submitted on Friday that the defendant’s incarceration makes it difficult for him to work on his own defense. They brought to his attention the fact that the essential documents he needs for review are only available online.
The legal team for Bankman-Fried was of the opinion that the only way to effectively address these challenges and protect Bankman-Fried’s right to actively participate in his own defense would be to grant him temporary release. Alternatively, they requested the court to reassess its prior ruling and approve permission for Bankman-Fried to attend predetermined meeting rooms daily for the next five weeks. In these sessions, his defense attorneys would furnish him with an internet-enabled device. This gave him the ability to access, modify, and share documents with his legal team, as well as collaborate with them. The attorneys would be present for the entirety of the sessions, and at the end of each one, they would be responsible for retrieving the device.
Earlier this month, Judge Lewis Kaplan, presiding over the case, rendered a decision that led to the revocation of the founder of FTX’s bail. The decision stemmed from the determination that the allegations against Bankman-Fried, involving attempts to tamper with witnesses on at least two distinct occasions, thus violating the terms of his bail, constituted adequate grounds to warrant the decision. In response, his legal team promptly declared their intention to appeal and, during the same hearing in which Judge Kaplan ordered his remand, endeavored to prevent his custody. Following that, they went to see Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn the previous week to discuss the issue.
The primary focus of their argument is on Bankman-Fried’s constitutional right to take an active role in the preparation of his defense and to have access to competent legal representation. One of the most important points brought up is the requirement for him to have a laptop with internet access. With this laptop in his possession, he could access the extensive collection of documents generated throughout the discovery process and contribute to a spreadsheet that organized the crucial information.
During the most recent arraignment of Bankman-Fried, his attorney, Christian Everdell, repeated the challenge in a manner that is analogous to the previous one. He emphasized the difficulty of effectively sharing his work and stated that there is currently no viable means for him to communicate his analyses to his legal team. He also emphasized the difficulty of effectively sharing his work with others.
Although Bankman-Fried does have access to a laptop while he is at the federal courthouse in Manhattan, Judge Kaplan has instructed that he can only use it for a total of six hours per day and only two days per week. This allocation is a significant decrease from the “80–100 hours a week” that he had been devoting previously to his defense work. The letter sent on Friday indicates that the laptop has a brief battery life and a weak internet connection, both of which are mentioned in the letter. While the Metropolitan Detention Center is holding him, they do not allow him to utilize a laptop computer or access the internet.
During his two weeks of detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), Bankman-Fried did not have access to any discovery materials or work-related documents, as stated in the letter. In spite of the efforts made by the defense team to send him selected documents and work products on hard drives, he is unable to review these materials at the MDC because he does not have a functional laptop. As a direct consequence of this, his capacity to get ready for trial while he is detained at the facility is severely restricted.
In addition, the defense team voiced their concerns regarding the ongoing release of discovery materials by the Department of Justice. They mentioned that during the course of just the previous week, prosecutors had already distributed over 4 million new pages of documents. Consequently, they are urging the judge to halt any additional discovery productions after July 1, citing insufficient time remaining before the trial to thoroughly examine all these materials.
Because of these concerns, the judge has given the prosecutors until Tuesday, August 29, to provide a response to the letter as well as a response to an earlier letter that outlined one of Bankman-Fried’s intended defenses. In addition, the judge has instructed the prosecutors to provide a response to the letter. In addition, a hearing to discuss the discovery issues is going to take place virtually on Wednesday at one o’clock in the afternoon Eastern Time. It’s important to note that the trial of Bankman-Fried, encompassing seven distinct charges such as conspiracy to commit securities and commodities fraud, along with wire fraud, is presently slated to commence at the start of October.