Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) trial begins, marked by his changed appearance, a busy courtroom, and crypto-focused discussions among potential jurors.
On October 3rd, the Manhattan courtroom buzzed with activity as Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, began his much-anticipated trial. With journalists, crypto enthusiasts, and skeptics in attendance, the first day revealed several noteworthy moments.
The Transformed Appearance of Bankman-Fried
Once known for his unkempt curly hair and robust demeanor, SBF surprised many by showing up with a dramatically altered look. Multiple reports indicate he looked much leaner than before. The once well-fitted navy suit now appeared oversized on him, and he sported a much shorter hairdo, discarding his signature curls. Laura Shin, from Unchained Crypto, observed that Bankman-Fried was calmer than usual. Gone were his usual jitters, and his leg shaking was noticeably absent.
During the proceedings, SBF mostly stayed silent, only speaking to affirmatively respond to the judge. He was often seen engaging with his defense team, scrolling and typing on an air-gapped laptop. This new appearance might be attributed to his seven-week stint at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, where reports suggested he survived mainly on bread and water due to a lack of vegan meal options. Crypto influencer Tiffany Fong commented on his changed demeanor, suggesting he appeared more like a typical defendant now.
A Gathering of Crypto Enthusiasts and Skeptics
Dubbed by some journalists as the “crypto prom”, the atmosphere on the trial’s first day resembled a significant event in the crypto world. Attendees described the ambiance as akin to the “first day of school”. The courthouse was packed, and media representatives had to be accommodated in an overflow room.
Attendees included prominent figures from the crypto community and journalists who’ve reported on decentralized currencies. Nitish Pahwa from The Slate mentioned spotting numerous familiar faces who’ve voiced their opinions on crypto in recent years.
Juror Selection: Mixed Feelings on Crypto
Judge Lewis B. Kaplan emphasized the importance of impartiality, advising potential jurors against research and avoiding press coverage. The questioning phase saw many potential jurors share their personal experiences with cryptocurrencies. Some admitted to having knowledge about FTX and Alameda, while others cited their introduction to the platforms via sources like The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Moreover, a few shared disappointing investment tales, with one juror admitting to negative feelings about crypto, leading to his dismissal.
The judge finalized the selection process by narrowing down to 50 qualified jurors. Out of these, 12 would be chosen as jurors, with six as alternates. Judge Kaplan also mentioned an interactive session for the next day, where each potential juror would get a minute to speak.
Witnesses and The Trial Duration
The potential witness list saw a mix of familiar and unexpected names. Former company executives like Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh made the list, alongside family members Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried. A surprising inclusion was Anthony Scaramucci. Institutions like Jane Street Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Binance were also mentioned.
Judge Kaplan estimated a six-week trial duration but hinted at a possible shorter trial. The jury finalization is anticipated to conclude on October 4th, following which opening arguments from both sides will commence.