Elizabeth Holmes’ attorneys are concerned about finding impartial jurors

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes got permission Tuesday to breastfeed her newborn son during breaks from her upcoming criminal fraud trial. Judge Edward Davila said there will be a designated “quiet room” for Holmes to care for her son, who will be born next month.

Holmes faces federal charges in connection with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud regarding his now-defunct healthcare technology company, Theranos. She has pleaded not guilty.

Holmes’s trial, delayed multiple times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and her pregnancy, will be one of the highest-profile criminal fraud trials in Silicon Valley history.

The childish adaptation for Holmes came when the judge reduced his proposed 45-page jury form and 112 questions to a 20-page draft.

Kevin Downey, Holmes’ attorney, raised objections to the judge’s simplified questionnaire, saying that “if the jurors are biased, that is not something they can decide. We cannot allow jurors to assess their own bias without fundamental questioning to fix it. “

Three hundred potential jurors from Northern California will be summoned to complete a questionnaire on August 19-20. The jury selection in person and voir dire (jury questioning) will take place on August 31.

Holmes’ questionnaire asks prospective jurors how often they read, watch or listen to certain journalists and media outlets, including CNBC.

“I know the defense is primarily concerned with media coverage,” Dávila said. “They are suggesting that you have been derogatory to Miss Holmes and that we have to do something to secure a fair jury for her, and that is what I am trying to do.”

Dávila suggested putting the most difficult questions first, adding that “there is a concept of questionnaire fatigue. At some point there is a reduced performance in the questionnaires and, in reality, it becomes less precise the longer it is ”.

Dávila said he would not allow detailed questioning of all potential jurors, but assured legal teams: “When we bring in the jury from both sides, they might be surprised, they might be delighted that many of them don’t know anything about this case. . That is a reality of life. “

Prosecutors have called Holmes’ proposed list of questions “deeply intrusive in unnecessary ways.”

“If someone reads any of the 46 posts or networks that the defense wants to identify, that doesn’t tell us anything about what they know about Theranos,” Kelly Volkar said as a deputy federal prosecutor. “Even if they ever read a story, that doesn’t necessarily mean they held it back or held some kind of bias or prejudice based on that article.”

When Holmes walked into court, he refused to answer questions from CNBC.

The two legal teams will review the judge’s questionnaire and the judge will make a final decision in the coming weeks.

Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for NBC News, said it will be difficult to find an impartial jury who has heard of the case but claims to be impartial, “that jury could be a stealthy jury, someone with an ax to work but hiding it” . to be part of the jury “.

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