The Elizabeth Holmes trial

Today I watched the trial in a San Jose federal courthouse of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. This was week five of the trial. Scheduled today was redirect examination of the prosecution witness former Theranos Lab Director Adam Rosendorff.  Instead it began with a surprise: a juror asked to speak with the judge. This had to be done in open court, although out of the presence of the other jurors. The juror, an Asian woman with a strong accent, was a Buddhist. According to her, because of her religion, she felt she must forgive and was in doubt whether she could ever vote to send someone to jail. She commented about Holmes “She’s so young.” The Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) argued for her removal as a juror and that met with no objection from the defense despite the fact that she would presumably be favorable to the defense. The judge removed her.

This was quickly followed by a request from the alternate juror who was called upon to replace the Asian woman. This juror, another immigrant, claimed to have trouble because English was her second language and because she had never been a juror. The judge explained that many jurors have English as a second language and the juror had already been questioned about her English, which she previously had said was good. She sounded fluent to me. The AUSA objected to her removal and the juror was not excused.

I feel certain that the reason the defense did not object to the removal of the first juror is that she would be the second juror to be removed, thus reducing the number of alternates to three from the original five. If granted, at the rate it’s going, there could very well be too few jurors by the end of the trial, which would result in a mistrial and the government would have to start all over or drop the case. That’s also probably why the prosecution did object to the removal of the second juror.

After those developments the redirect of Mr. Rosendorff resumed. The prosecution used that occasion to paint Theranos in general and Holmes in particular as using faulty Theranos devices, called Edisons, for patient blood tests even though they knew the results weren’t accurate, thus endangering patients. The defense then questioned him again on re-cross. In between, though, there was an argument about the AUSA’s final question on redirect. He had asked the witness how Theranos compared to other labs he had directed when it came to problems and questions from physicians who distrusted the results. The answer had been that Theranos was much worse than any other. The defense wanted to use this to open up questioning about a host of other labs and their problems. The judge waffled on this and eventually agreed to give a curative instruction to the jurors, striking that question and answer, but denying him the right to question about other labs.

That’s the basic newsy stuff prior to lunch. I didn’t stay for the afternoon session. In my next post I’ll give you some of my own impressions of the people, the court, and the process.

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