Jury selection started on Tuesday in the long-awaited trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founding father of the blood testing start-up Theranos, who faces a dozen counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Ms. Holmes, carrying a medical masks and navy blue skirt go well with, with legal professionals at her aspect, was instantly swarmed by a scrum of photographers on her arrival at the federal courthouse in San Jose, Calif. Inside the courtroom, she watched as Judge Edward Davila of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, who’s overseeing the case, and the legal professionals questioned the panel of potential jurors, who had been winnowed down from a listing of greater than 200 to round 50. The jurors sat in assigned seats that had been spaced aside for the pandemic.
At the coronary heart of the trial are questions of what precisely Ms. Holmes, 37, knew of the issues with Theranos’s blood-testing units and whether or not she deliberately misled buyers over the firm’s know-how. If convicted, she might serve as much as 20 years in jail.
The case has captured public consideration as one other instance of a Silicon Valley start-up gone unsuitable. But Theranos was uncommon in that it was led by a female entrepreneur. Ms. Holmes exploited that distinction, utilizing it to construct consideration. She usually wore a Steve Jobs-esque uniform of a black turtleneck and spoke in an unusually deep voice. Before Theranos fell from grace, Ms. Holmes was topped the world’s youngest billionaire and recurrently posed for journal covers.
Her excessive profile could pose a problem for jury selection. Prosecutors and her protection legal professionals could discover it tough to select jurors who haven’t already made up their minds about the case.
Potential jurors have crammed out a 28-page questionnaire asking them about their media consumption habits, medical historical past and information of greater than 200 doable witnesses. An even more extensive questionnaire put forth by Ms. Holmes’s authorized staff included greater than 100 questions. In June, it was rejected by Judge Davila.
On Tuesday, round half the potential jurors raised a hand when requested if that they had heard of media protection of the case. Almost all mentioned they may very well be truthful and neutral, regardless of having earlier information of the case from documentaries, a e-book or podcasts.
One potential juror was excused as a result of his job as a producer at a radio information present uncovered him to the information, whereas one other was excused for having seen a Theranos documentary. Two others had been excused after saying they’d not be capable of make hire in the event that they served on a jury trial that lasted three-plus months.
Other questions offered a preview of the authorized arguments which will seem in the case. Judge Davila requested if any potential jurors had expertise with or had been uncovered to home violence or intimate-partner abuse. Ms. Holmes’s legal professionals are anticipated to argue that Ramesh Balwani, Theranos’s former president and Ms. Holmes’s onetime boyfriend, had abused her throughout their relationship, based mostly on courtroom filings from 2020. Mr. Balwani, who is called Sunny, has additionally been accused of fraud.
Jury selection will prolong at the least into Wednesday, when one other 50 or so potential jurors might be questioned. Opening statements begin subsequent week.
Erin Griffith contributed reporting.