The second day for Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial was filled with jury selection, opening statements and testimonies from the first two witnesses, with a peek into what may be in store.
His lawyers arrived to the courtroom around 9:20 a.m., 10 minutes before clock-in time. Bankman-Fried followed shortly after. Although he was once known for his scraggly, wild, curly hair and casual outfits of cargo shorts and T-shirts, Bankman-Fried was wearing a gray suit and purple tie with a tighter, new haircut with part of his sideburns shaved off.
Throughout the morning, Bankman-Fried looked mainly glued to his laptop, seated at the front of the room facing federal judge Lewis Kaplan, or facing his main attorney, Mark Cohen, nodding in private and whispering. He shook his right leg incessantly under the table, which rings true to his well-known habit of being a fidgeter.
When the potential jurors walked in, Bankman-Fried didn’t swivel his head to look, but kept himself looking forward, only glancing out of the corner of his eye to see those in the jury booth.
But around 12:05 p.m., after jury selection was complete and 12 jurors and six alternates were sworn in, Bankman-Fried looked at them. Within the next six weeks, they will decide whether Bankman-Fried is guilty on seven charges related to fraud and money laundering.
Almost immediately after the jurors were picked, Bankman-Fried began to look at them, squinting in their direction, then looking back to his mound of printed papers beside him and the court-controlled laptop screen in front of him.
At one point, he even put his fingers in his mouth and began gnawing at them. He also smirked slightly toward one of the jurors. It was unclear if they acknowledged him.
The 12 jurors were a somewhat eclectic group of nine women and three men, ranging from 33 to 69 years old. To be considerate, we omitted their names, but here are some details we received about who they are, in order of introduction, while sitting in the courtroom.
Individuals with an asterisk disclosed they have previously served as a juror.
- 39-year-old female physician assistant, 10 weeks pregnant with a background in medicine, husband does web development.
- 33-year-old female nurse who lives alone in Westchester, New York.
- 40-year-old female social worker who’s currently unemployed.*
- 53-year-old female Duke University graduate, divorced stay-at-home mother of two kids, previously worked in nonprofits managing fundraisers.
- 59-year-old male, married with three kids; one of his children works at a bank.*
- 50-year-old female Metro North train conductor and mother of five kids with three living at home and two in college.
- 47-year-old female high school librarian, single and lives with her cats, sister and sick mother.
- 65-year-old female retired corrections officer and mother of three kids.
- 61-year-old male U.S. Postal Service employee, no wife, no kids.*
- 43-year-old female from Ukraine, who does IT at Bloomberg and has been in the U.S. for 15 years and is divorced with two kids.
- 55-year-old female special education teacher, formerly from Bermuda where she did banking, attended Waterloo University for undergraduate and got master’s degrees from NYU and Seton Hall University.
- 69-year-old male, retired investment banker from Hong Kong, attended Rice University and Stanford University, has a wife and no children, and diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
As the second day went on, many of the jurors kept their eyes laser focused on the parties speaking. At times, some jurors expressed confusion or disinterest as opening arguments ensued and the first two witnesses took the stand.
Given that the majority of the jurors don’t have a background in finance — or crypto, for that matter — it could be a highly confusing topic to dive into the deep end. As a crypto reporter myself, I find some things highly technical and confusing, so I give them grace on that front.
Time will tell if they grasp these concepts — and grasp a pen and paper to take notes. For what it’s worth, the majority of them did not write anything down during day two, but day three and so forth could bring on a different tune.