Sep 28, 2023 - Economy

Sam Bankman-Fried denied release for trial

A young man entering a building, passing through glass doors.

Sam Bankman-Fried entering federal court on August 11, 2023. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Sam Bankman-Fried will not be released while his trial takes place, Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled this morning at the U.S. Southern District Court in Manhattan.

Driving the news: SBF's attorneys made one last push to get their client released so that they would have real-time access to him over the course of the trial, which is expected to run until just before Thanksgiving.

What they're saying: "The issues in this case are pretty straightforward: Was there fraud or wasn't there," Judge Kaplan said as he rendered his ruling.

  • "I actually see precious little that has changed."

That said, he did order a new accommodation for the defense. He's asking that the Department of Prisons make the defendant available most weekday mornings at 7 a.m.

  • SBF was previously accommodated with a laptop without an internet connection, so that his attorney can give him documents and he can make notes and comment.
  • "I'm committed to a fair trial," the judge told the defense team.

Of note: The government argued that the conditions for release had not been met, but the judge explicitly noted that he wasn't ruling either way on that argument.

Context: The defense noted that there are 1,300 documents that the government has indicated will be discussed in its prosecution.

  • While they have had access to all those documents previously, they were 1,300 among thousands and thousands of others. They have only recently been made aware of just which ones the prosecution will consider.

The intrigue: Defense attorney Mark Cohen, of Cohen & Gresser, said there was no good reason not to release the defendant for trial, in particular because he's never shown any evidence of being a flight risk.

  • "I've been thinking about that," Judge Kaplan said in court. "Your client, in the event of a conviction, could be looking at a very long sentence."
  • He said that the defendant might take a different view on flight if his prospects for exoneration looked grim and conditions permitted for him to get away.

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