As the criminal trial for Sam Bankman-Fried enters its third week, lawyers for the disgraced crypto founder are haggling to expand his access to the ADHD medication Adderall.
In a court filing late on Sunday, one of Bankman-Fried’s attorneys, Mark Cohen, wrote that the struggle to provide his client with an adequate supply of Adderall was hampering the ability of the defense to prepare its case—and could weigh on the crucial decision of whether Bankman-Fried will testify.
“Mr. Bankman-Fried has been doing his best to remain focused during the trial for the past two weeks,” Cohen wrote, arguing that the defense has a “growing concern” over whether Bankman-Fried can sufficiently concentrate to “meaningfully participate” in the trial.
According to previous court filings, Bankman-Fried has taken Adderall tablets three to four times a day for the past three years, which his lawyers have argued is a necessary medication for the famously hyperactive crypto founder. When crafting questions for potential jurors, his lawyers wanted to screen for potential bias in regard to Bankman-Fried’s body language caused by his ADHD.
Bankman-Fried has had little success in asking the court to expand his access to Adderall after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan revoked his bail in August, after Bankman-Fried shared private writing from the prosecution’s star witness Caroline Ellison. Just two weeks after Bankman-Fried was remanded to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, his lawyers said at a hearing that he was not receiving the medication and had a limited supply of a separate depression medication that he was taking.
While access to medication is notoriously difficult at the detention center, Kaplan ruled for Bankman-Fried to receive the ADHD and depression treatments. Since the beginning of his trial in early October, however, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have argued that the long days in court are preventing him from taking his necessary doses.
While Kaplan told Bankman-Fried’s lawyers to work with the Bureau of Prisons to figure out an appropriate schedule, Cohen wrote in Sunday’s filing that the defense team has received “no response” despite “numerous” emails and voice messages. Their proposal is to give Bankman-Fried an extended-release dose that can last the entire day, although Cohen noted they cannot be sure of its effectiveness. He further asked for the court to adjourn on Tuesday if a proper solution was not reached.
The back-and-forth over Adderall is indicative of broader struggles for defendants in detention to adequately prepare for their trials, whether it is access to electronic discovery or medication. In the case of Bankman-Fried, his lawyers argue his access to Adderall could determine whether the FTX founder decides to take the stand in his own defense, as the government’s case against him grows more dire. The first and second weeks of the trial saw members of his inner circle, including former CTO Gary Wang and Ellison detail how Bankman-Fried instructed them to use customer deposits from the crypto exchange to cover massive holes in the balance sheet of its associated trading firm, Alameda Research.
The Department of Justice expects it will finish presenting its evidence around the end of October. Bankman-Fried will then have his with a verdict expected by late November..