SBF trial turns into naptime for one sleepy juror

While members of the press and public line up outside the courthouse at four in the morning to try to snag a seat in the courtroom for Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial in New York, at least one juror is dozing off. 

A front-row juror was seen sleeping in the jury box Wednesday afternoon and again Thursday morning as the prosecution’s second witness, Bankman-Fried’s former friend and employee Adam Yedidia, got into the nitty gritty of FTX’s inner workings. 

Neither the defense nor the prosecution has addressed the matter in open court or in sidebar conversations with Judge Lewis Kaplan that have been published in trial transcripts. 

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Carlo D’Angelo, a crypto criminal defense attorney, spoke to Blockworks about how such a situation might generally be handled. He said that in his personal experience, “if it’s brought to the court’s attention, a judge would generally recess the trial and bring that juror before the judge and inquire [and] instruct the juror how important it is to stay awake.”

The judge would then typically consult with counsel on whether or not to dismiss the juror. 

“Unless counsel puts that issue on the record, it will not be preserved for direct appeal purposes,” D’Angelo added. 

Kaplan has already expressed frustration with the jury. On Wednesday morning after the 12 jurors and six alternates were selected, several reached out to the judge to express concerns and conflicts about serving. 

“I have an array of juror notes in front of me,” Kaplan said, adding that one had just informed the court that they work night shifts. 

“It would have certainly been helpful” to know this ahead of time, Kaplan said, but “the ship has sort of sailed.” 

The juror seen sleeping in court on Wednesday and Thursday was not the individual who said they work night shifts. 

Danielle Sassoon, lead attorney for the government, spent about an hour and twenty minutes questioning Yedidia Thursday before Bankman-Fried’s team took over for the cross-examination. When she asked Yedidia to explain futures trading and wire transfers, several jurors were seen yawning. Few were taking notes. 

Bankman-Fried’s trial continues in Manhattan Friday morning. The court will recess for the weekend and is scheduled to resume on Oct. 10. The trial is expected to last six weeks.

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