A pregnant Elizabeth Holmes appeared in court for the first time in 15 months for three days to pave the way for her fraud trial.
At Tuesday’s session in the San Jose Federal Court, Judge Edward Davila only allowed Holmes, her defense lawyers, and the prosecution inside. When Holmes entered the courthouse, she refused to answer questions from CNBC’s Scott Cohn.
At the more than seven-hour hearing, both sides discussed critical motions that determine what evidence the jury will hear, including how the Silicon Valley culture may have influenced Holmes’ behavior as CEO of Theranos. The company closed in 2018 after an investigation by the Wall Street Journal uncovered unproven technology and dubious business practices.
“There is an exaggeration in Silicon Valley. There will be a natural discussion about startups and how they work,” said Davila. He ruled that the defense cannot find them unfairly singled out.
Prosecutors warned the judge not to give Holmes too much space to argue that her actions are no different from those of other startups.
“I would like to warn against what the defense paints with a very broad brush when they say trade secret practices at Theranos,” said Jeff Schenk, a US assistant attorney.
A court sketch of the court appearance of former Theranos managing director Elizabeth Holmes on May 4, 2021.
Vicki Behringer licensed to CNBC
Holmes attorneys say prosecutors built a comprehensive case on anecdotal evidence. Theranos technology performed between seven and ten million tests over two years. Amy Saharia, a Holmes attorney, said the trial will be “a vast jumble of irrelevant, adverse evidence.”
She added, “We have all become very familiar with testing this year. Testing involves many different variables. What the government is offering is scientifically unrelated, finding that Theranos technology was responsible for erroneous results. Just because it happened doesn’t mean it was because of Theranos technology. “
The subjects were just a few of the more than two dozen motions the judge is expected to rule on this week.
One is a motion from Holmes to block evidence of her wealth, spending, and lifestyle from the jury. Prosecutors allege Holmes’ “desire to retain her wealth and status created a powerful motive” to continue and hide her fraud. Holmes was once considered the youngest billionaire with an estimated net worth of $ 4.5 billion.
A former Theranos executive close to Holmes told CNBC, “I don’t think Elizabeth believed that there was daylight between her and the company. She saw herself as a company.” This person asked not to be named for fear of jeopardizing future employment opportunities.
Holmes, once a media treasure who made the rounds of television and magazines, has remained a mom since being charged with nine wire fraud cases and two wire fraud conspiracy cases. The former executive told CNBC that she was “an inherently optimistic person”.
“There was such a mythology around her. And I think to some extent she recognized and accepted that.”
“Everyone who’s been paying attention has only heard really negative things about her,” said Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst with NBC News. “Your disgrace was spectacular. There will be plenty of jurors who have probably heard of Holmes, and it’s probably not good.”
The selection of the jury begins on August 31st.
“It has its core [of] Supporters, a small but supporter who, until the day she died, said she was unfairly portrayed and abused, “said the former Theranos manager.