- The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) files a sweeping motion to preclude all seven expert witnesses prepared by Sam Bankman-Fried for his trial.
- The motion argues that the testimony from these experts is either irrelevant, encroaches upon the court’s jurisdiction, or simply provides an “expert veneer” to inadmissible hearsay.
Legal Tensions Intensify: DOJ’s Audacious Move
In a staggering legal maneuver, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) seeks to undermine the entire expert witness arsenal prepared by Sam Bankman-Fried. The DOJ argues that these proposed testimonies are rife with issues, warranting their total exclusion. This move further escalates the tension in an already complex case, forcing a spotlight on the boundaries of admissible expertise in blockchain-related litigation.
The seven witnesses in question comprise a varied cast: a lawyer, a business school professor, a law professor, and the heads of four different consulting firms. Yet, the DOJ argues, their collective testimony is inherently flawed. It allegedly extends beyond the parameters of expertise into territories that are either irrelevant or encroach upon the roles of the court and the jury.
To elaborate, British lawyer Lawrence Akka was set to testify on the interpretation of FTX’s terms of service. His stance that the terms created a “contractual creditor-debtor relationship” and did not “contain a declaration of trust over any fiat currency,” according to the DOJ, could illegitimately pre-empt the court’s role in interpreting the law and the jury’s role in applying the facts to it.
Moreover, the DOJ claims that the testimony of Joseph Pimbley, Principal of Maxwell Consulting, should be disqualified as redundant and unnecessary. The assertion is rooted in the fact that two other witnesses, Gary Wang and Nishad Singh, were intimately involved in writing FTX’s underlying code and are positioned to provide their own testimony on the matter.
In light of these contentions, the DOJ urges the court to exercise its “gatekeeping authority” and disallow the experts from taking the stand. Furthermore, the DOJ has requested a Daubert hearing should the court be on the fence about the motion. A Daubert hearing is a critical procedure that allows the court to scrutinize the challenged experts in an open setting, thus assessing the admissibility of their testimonies.
With this bold motion, the DOJ is not just challenging the credibility of Sam Bankman-Fried’s chosen experts but is also raising fundamental questions about the nature and scope of expert testimony in blockchain and fintech litigation. The ripple effects of this decision could be far-reaching, setting a precedent for future cases in this rapidly evolving legal frontier.