With just two weeks to his trial, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) appealed his bail revocation ruling, hoping he would attend his trial from home when it commences. However, that is unlikely following the Court of Appeals order on September 21.
Sam Bankman-Fried To Remain In Jail
A three-judge panel of Circuit Judges including John M. Walker, Jr., Denny Chin, and William J. Nardini ordered that SBF’s motion for release pending trial be denied. That means that Sam Bankman-Fried will remain in detention until his trial commences.
SBF and his lawyers had appealed Judge Lewis Kaplan’s (the Judge in charge of SBF’s case) ruling, where he revoked the FTX founder’s bail and ordered that he be detained at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) until his trial begins on October 3.
The Judge had made this decision after finding that SBF had indeed tampered with witnesses against him and tried to influence those witnesses. The Prosecution also claimed that Sam Bankman-Fried violated his bail conditions by leaking Alameda Research ex-CEO Caroline Ellison’s diary to a journalist, as this was done to put her reputation in question when the trial commences.
The Court of Appeals Reasoning
Following the appeal, the Judges had to review Judge Kaplan’s detention ruling and decide whether or not he made any error in his decision. However, they ruled that there was no error. Instead, they agreed with the court’s reasoning that there was probable course to believe that Sam Bankman-Fried had attempted to tamper with two witnesses and that he had acted with lawful intent to influence those witnesses.
In their argument, SBF’s lawyers stated that the district court failed to consider how much of SBF’s activity was protected by his First Amendment right (his right to free speech). The Court of Appeal found that the district court “correctly determined” that this right cannot protect one involved in a criminal offense such as witness tampering.
Furthermore, the court rejected SBF’s lawyers’ contention that Judge Kaplan could have considered a less restrictive alternative to detention. It stated that the finding that SBF had committed a criminal offense while on bail raised a rebuttable presumption that “no condition or combination of conditions” will assure that SBF didn’t pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community.
It also noted that Judge Kaplan had considered several factors, such as the fact due to SBF’s conduct over time, the court had to “repeatedly tighten” the conditions of his release, but that didn’t deter him from committing the crime of witness tampering.
SBF faces up to 100 years imprisonment if found guilty of all the seven counts of fraud-related crimes leveled against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
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