Theranos aftermath

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Theranos aftermath

#1

Post by RTH10260 »

Elizabeth Holmes: from Silicon Valley’s female icon to disgraced CEO on trial
Elizabeth Holmes was the Theranos CEO who claimed her technology could perform a large range of tests with a small amount of blood.
Once the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, the former head of Theranos is facing fraud charges and possible jail time


Kari Paul
Sun 29 Aug 2021 06.00 BST

The rise and fall of the blood testing startup Theranos turned the tech world upside down and captured the attention of millions beyond Silicon Valley, inspiring multiple books, documentaries and a television series.

Theranos set out to revolutionize the medical testing space, reaching a valuation of $10bn before the capabilities of its core technology were revealed to be largely fabricated. Now, its founder and former leader, Elizabeth Holmes, is about to face the music.

Holmes, 37, is facing trial in a California courtroom, charged with defrauding Theranos’s patients and investors. She could spend up to 20 years in prison, and has pleaded not guilty.

“This is a bellwether case,” said Jason Mehta, a Florida attorney with expertise in federal fraud cases in the health industry. “It has emerging technology and the typical marketing bravado of a startup, all in the crosshairs of the federal criminal justice system.”



https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... o-on-trial


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#2

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

I read somewherz on the Intertubes that Theranos is pleading domestic abuse by her business/intimate partner as self-defense. This will be interesting to watch.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#3

Post by woodworker »

IMO, BULLSHIT. This has nothing to do with exciting new technologies, healthcare, etc. This is a case of good-old fashioned fraud. Her technology didn't work -- there is no dispute about that. So she lied to her investors, the public, etc., fabricated and forged the results she wanted to show people and she got caught. The excuse that she was trying to create a ground-breaking, health care revolutionizing machine is just that, an excuse. At least the Juicero people designed and manufactured a machine that "worked." It did what it said it would do. Theranos was all smoke and mirrors and bullshit.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#4

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

I agree. I am interested in seeing how she presents her "domestic abuse" as I did a lot of DA cases before retiring. There is likely fraud in this defense as well. I think she believed her own con.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#5

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/th ... uxbndlbing
ABC News
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' criminal trial begins


Jury selection for the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes begins Tuesday in San Jose, California, following Holmes’s allegations of abuse against her former boyfriend and Theranos COO, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, that came out over the weekend.

Holmes is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming from a "multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients," according to the Northern District of California United States Attorney's Office.

The pair were originally charged together, but the trials were severed in January 2020 for a reason that was undisclosed until newly unsealed court documents revealed that Holmes alleged just seeing Balwani could trigger "debilitating PTSD symptoms." Her team has also signaled that Holmes will likely be testifying at the trial, which would be hindered if Balwani were present.

The documents detail evidence that Holmes plans to introduce, including claims that Balwani controlled "what she ate, how she dressed, how much money she could spend, who she could interact with." They allege Balwani "monitored her calls, text messages and emails and was physically violent -- throwing hard, sharp objects at her, restricting her sleep and monitoring her movements."
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Re: Theranos aftermath

#6

Post by johnpcapitalist »

When Theranos started to attract a lot of attention, I asked a friend who's a researcher/professor that knows about such things. His response was pretty blunt: it is simply not possible to do what she claimed Thernos could do. The risk of contamination from a finger stick would throw off a bunch of results. Other tests required blood that wasn't oxgenated as it would be when it was collected dermally. Still other tests required too large a sample to come out with a finger stick. And finally, labs use specialized machines for different types of tests. It might be possible to miniaturize a single machine to tabletop size in some cases, but no way could you cram an entire lab into a Mr. Coffee-sized unit.

His attitude was that it was so obviously impossible that he was stunned anyone was putting money into it. He also noted, as many medical types did, that her advisors and her board of directors had no medical researchers at all, even ones of dubious credibility.

He didn't use the word "fraud" to describe the company, but he was of the "not even wrong" attitude about her idea. I never came close to investing in Theranos (I don't do medical and haven't done venture capital investment in ages) but it is pretty obvious that the whole thing was a fraud from the get-go since no amount of money over even infinite time could have delivered what she promised.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#7

Post by northland10 »

I don't understand how some on Wall Street go running after these things with little to no due diligence. Do they go running after these things thinking they can help boost that value fast and be the ones who get out before it crashes? Granted, it's crap like this that I hate because it has nothing to do with investing, but just another form of gambling but with consequences for other folks beyond the gambler.

This is also why I probably hate it when I hear CEOs making changes to increase the "value" which usually means short-term bumps. It's obvious, you don't actually have to be successful in running a business but just finding a trick to artificially get the street all hot and bothered.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#8

Post by johnpcapitalist »

northland10 wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:10 am I don't understand how some on Wall Street go running after these things with little to no due diligence. Do they go running after these things thinking they can help boost that value fast and be the ones who get out before it crashes? Granted, it's crap like this that I hate because it has nothing to do with investing, but just another form of gambling but with consequences for other folks beyond the gambler.

This is also why I probably hate it when I hear CEOs making changes to increase the "value" which usually means short-term bumps. It's obvious, you don't actually have to be successful in running a business but just finding a trick to artificially get the street all hot and bothered.
Your second paragraph applies to public market investors (i.e., mutual funds that invest in stocks that have already gone public and trade on stock exchanges). That's generally true, but the focus of this thread is on Theranos, which is a venture capital (VC) backed startup, and none of its shares were traded on exchanges. The world of VC investing behaves differently from the world of the public markets, and they only really intersect when a company goes public. There's a focus on long-term "path to profitability" but not so much on quarterly financials. I'll focus this reply on your first paragraph.

There is plenty of stupidity and "follow the herd" mentality in venture capital circles. But there are other phenomena at work that also ensure that a lot of people make dumb investments. Here is a summary of what I learned early on when I worked with a Silicon Valley VC fund.

First, VC culture encourages some number of mistakes as a "cost of doing business" to participate in the big hits. VC funds (except for small "angel" funds) are typically only open to large investors, who want to invest a small portion of their portfolio in high-risk investments, and they can tolerate the lack of liquidity. Often, VC fund investors are insurance or annuity companies. When VC funds do well, the 1% or 2% of assets invested in VC funds can "juice" overall portfolio returns significantly, and if they flop, it's not going to devastate overall returns. Typically, the saying is that out of 10 investments, 6 will fail, 3 will generate average returns, and the 10th will hit the ball so far out of the park that it generates spectacular returns that make up for the other 9.

If a given VC firm doesn't take enough risks, they will have substandard returns and won't be able to raise the next fund. Yes, if they take stupid risks and too few investments pay off, they'll be in the same boat. So the general approach is to invest with a number of other VC firms to spread the risk around. Not only do you limit the number of direct dollars at risk, but you also spread the due diligence around so that multiple people are doing due diligence on the same deal. You are more likely to trust that other people you've successfully invested with in the past are going to do their homework.

True, the pattern of investing over and over again with the same people does tend to create a "lemming effect," where everyone is following everyone else. VC's are often afraid of standing up and saying "this is never going to work" because they might get shut off of deal flow passed along by people at other firms, who might have invested in something you think is never going to work. I've seen all of that in my career.

It should be noted that there has been a prevailing mood in VC for the last 10+ years that all the good ideas in pure tech plays have been tapped out. For instance, in the database market, arguably the most profitable market in the history of the technology business, there are no significant new innovations that could come along that would displace the entrenched data management architectures. (I'm an expert in investing in that segment, and agree at least somewhat with that belief, to my dismay.) Repeat across most of the business, and you see the potential of perennially diminishing returns, threatening the business model. Hence, the willingness of people to make outsized bets on models where it's a home run that changes the world, or it's a crater in the parking lot. They can't just go for "build a decent business that is reasonably profitable and then gets acquired." The pressure increases continually to go for astonishing home runs. That is another factor that made investors ripe for a Theranos-type scam: she promised something so audacious that it fit perfectly into the need for a home run.

Theranos is different from the standard VC startup I've described above. Holmes managed to get investors from VC firms because of historical connections -- she grew up next door to rock star VC Tim Draper, so he went in for a piece of her seed round. He brought in a couple of other people on the Silicon Valley side including Larry Ellison of Oracle. Ellison, by the way, hasn't really done that well in investing outside of his success with Oracle, so he's not that smart of a venture investor. People give him small pieces of deals for the name recognition, not because he helps them run a business. But it's not like he knows much about medical devices.

My suspicion is that, at the same time as she was exploiting these happenstance prior relationships, she was making the rounds of firms experienced in health sciences (biotech, devices, medical software) and getting turned down probably even before a pitch meeting. I'll speculate that sophisticated investors knew this so obviously wasn't going to work that they wouldn't even bring her in for an hour-long pitch meeting.

Net result was that she had to get investors who thought they were smart guys, but whose expertise was outside healthcare. She was able to get a whole bunch of famous names on her corporate board and her advisory board didn't know anything about the subject area. Most of her money came from people like Rupert Murdoch ($125 million), the Walton family (Wal-mart) ($100 million), Betsy De Vos (the ultimate dumb money) for $100-ish million, and others. Very little outside some seed money came from smart VC's with relevant experience.

People like Murdoch, etc. were ideal marks for the scheme because they would not have the capability to do their own due diligence in house and probably wouldn't even know where to turn to hire people to vet the deal. So they'd over-rely on the prestige factor of the board, and the press reports about how brilliant Holmes supposedly was.

So the scorecard is:
  • Smart VC's with relevant experience: didn't invest because they didn't even need to do due diligence to see this was crap.
  • Smart VC's without relevant experience: mostly seed money they could afford to lose, willing to take a long-shot risk, so not much due diligence necessary in their minds.
  • Big, dumb money: maybe smart at other things but dumb when it comes to a) Silicon Valley and b) anything other than what they made their money at, who ended up being the ideal suckers for this scam.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#9

Post by northland10 »

Thanks, JPC. For me, that explanation was definitely an out-of-the-park home run and not some crater in the lot. :clap:

I am also seeing the downside is not as bad as I thought. Murdoch, Walton, and especially the DeVos family losing money can only be a good thing .


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#10

Post by Uninformed »

Another thank you JPC. :thumbsup:


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#11

Post by woodworker »

I would add a couple of minor refinements to John P's description.

First, some of the "dumb" money comes from people who have a shit-ton of money they never really earned. Ellison, as John P noted, is not regarded as a really successful tech investor -- he made his money in Oracle. He earned it.

But how many of the Walton heirs or similar folks "earned" their money in the sense of creating, developing or building something? They either were born or married into and, IMHO, many of such obscenely wealthy people believe that because they have all this money, they are smarter than everyone else. They were not smart at one thing, they were just lucky.

Second, most of these really wealthy people have financial advisers (lots of them) to make sure that they stay wealthy and don't pay taxes. Some of these advisers are very talented and are capable of and will do the necessary due diligence before making a major investment, but some will fall into the lemming category -- no one ever got fired for choosing IBM. Lots of exciting and sexy people on the Theranos advisory board, must be real, so lets invest.

Last, some of these really wealthy people are absolute perfect marks: they truly believe that they are smarter than everyone else, including their financial advisers; they see a new exciting and sexy company, one which promises that they, the wealthy and smarter than everyone else person, are going to help to revolutionize the healthcare industry and bring manna to the masses; and they want, nay deserve, the public adulation they expect to receive for being not only a incredibly insightful and successful investor, but also a savior bringing medical miracles to the great unwashed. They are perfect marks and they deserve to be fleeced.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#12

Post by LM K »

HBO has a documentary about Holmes.

The Inventor: Out for Blood

Holmes is a psychopath. I use that term diagnostically.

I think she had a child to try to get sympathy. I honestly believe that.

Holmes battered woman defense is beyond offensive. The prosecution must have a solid case if Holmes defense is going with a battered woman defense.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#13

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Tiredretiredlawyer wrote: Mon Aug 30, 2021 2:44 pm I agree. I am interested in seeing how she presents her "domestic abuse" as I did a lot of DA cases before retiring. There is likely fraud in this defense as well. I think she believed her own con.
She's a stone cold sociopath. She's flat out creepy to look at and I don't think she's told the truth since she was in middle school. (she's also a poster child for why I oppose "gifted" education tracking. It creates assholes like her,)

The possibility that she might testify only makes me think all the above even more. She thinks she's so much smarter than everyone that she'll be able to craft an explanation that makes her an innocent innovator who got mixed up with fancy business people who misled her.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

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Re: Theranos aftermath

#15

Post by FiveAcres »

Volkonski wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 3:31 pm
Skew the jury pool to smarter jurors?


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#16

Post by chancery »

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the notion of domestic violence as a defense to the charges here.

I recognize (although I'm sure I don't fully grasp) that domestic violence can occur in any kind of marriage, and can involve people who are smart, well-educated, successful, and seemingly happy and well adjusted.

I still don't see how the violence -- which didn't deprive her of the capacity to do all the strenuous things that she did as the hard-charging CEO of a billion dollar company -- somehow selectively disabled her ability to form the requisite intent to carry out a huge swindle. That's not domestic violence, that's invasion of the body snatchers.

Does anyone know if there was a motion in limine addressing the defense? Or maybe it doesn't work that way (IANACrL).


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#17

Post by woodworker »

IIRC, whilst she was a master of all she could see, didn't she always wear her hair in a more austere fashion? I ask because this hair style seems designed to make her appear more vulnerable and less iron-willed to the jury. Or am I just completely off-base here?


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#18

Post by somerset »

chancery wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 4:49 pm I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the notion of domestic violence as a defense to the charges here.

I recognize (although I'm sure I don't fully grasp) that domestic violence can occur in any kind of marriage, and can involve people who are smart, well-educated, successful, and seemingly happy and well adjusted.

I still don't see how the violence -- which didn't deprive her of the capacity to do all the strenuous things that she did as the hard-charging CEO of a billion dollar company -- somehow selectively disabled her ability to form the requisite intent to carry out a huge swindle. That's not domestic violence, that's invasion of the body snatchers.

Does anyone know if there was a motion in limine addressing the defense? Or maybe it doesn't work that way (IANACrL).
I don't think there was a motion in limine, but there was an effort by Holmes' defense to keep her pre-trial psychological evaluation under seal:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... minal-case
A federal prosecutor urged the judge handling Elizabeth Holmes’s criminal fraud case to open up sealed court records concerning the Theranos Inc. founder’s preparation of a mental-health defense as she heads toward trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Volkar said Tuesday the government supports a media request to make the documents public, saying that if Holmes’s lawyers intend to present a mental defense to jurors in a few weeks, prosecutors need to be ready to respond.

“As we barrel toward trial, the government is not sure what if anything it can say,” Volkar said. “At a certain point in time it becomes not pragmatic to seal at this level.”

Volkar spoke during a hearing in San Jose, California, as U.S. District Judge Edward Davila weighed a request by Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, to unseal prosecutors’ psychological evaluation of Holmes. Health records of defendants are often kept confidential in court proceedings.
I think it's possible for the power dynamic in a relationship to be much different in private than it appears to be in public. I know of couples where the husband appears to be the "alpha male" to the outside world, but the wife is actually the dominant one in the relationship. I'm not saying this is the case with Holmes and Balwani, nor that it's a valid defense even if it is. But I do think it's possible that Balwani was dominant and even possibly abusive in their relationship.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#19

Post by Gregg »

chancery wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 4:49 pm I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the notion of domestic violence as a defense to the charges here.

I recognize (although I'm sure I don't fully grasp) that domestic violence can occur in any kind of marriage, and can involve people who are smart, well-educated, successful, and seemingly happy and well adjusted.

I still don't see how the violence -- which didn't deprive her of the capacity to do all the strenuous things that she did as the hard-charging CEO of a billion dollar company -- somehow selectively disabled her ability to form the requisite intent to carry out a huge swindle. That's not domestic violence, that's invasion of the body snatchers.

Does anyone know if there was a motion in limine addressing the defense? Or maybe it doesn't work that way (IANACrL).

Not just the hair, but her whole look. She famously had like 50 of the exact same outfits (all black, turtle neck, blazer channeling Steve Jobs so hard he could have sued her) and was.. well,,, look... "Silicon Valley Hard Core Sleeps 2 hours a week Face" And always with the "my secret hobby is sereial killing" eyes.

Also, too, listen to her voice now, (if you can find it) and then. She deliberately deepened her voice and made a conscience effort to sound almost masculine because she thought it made her more powerful. Now that she's a delicate flower victim, her voice is much softer and matches her appearance. I dunno how to describe it, if you hear it, you'll know what I'm talking about though and I read the book that the HBO special is based upon where people who knew her describe why and how she used her voice like some Bene Gesserit wannabe.

(BTW, if you read the book, you might learn to dislike her as much as I do. She's one of my favorite terrible people, ranking somewhere between Bill Barr and Ivan the Terrible.)

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Re: Theranos aftermath

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Post by Gregg »

You got me all wound up... so I'm gonna vent some more.

She was oh so holier than though about "I only have one outfit that I bought 50 copies of because I'm so busy and so devoted and so much more focused than mere humans that I don't have time to worry about my clothes or how I look"

When she looks like she spent 3 hours on the makeup and hair.

I look like I'm so focused I don't have time to worry about my looks! (I have pleny of time, I just look that way.) As Webhick says, I look "like I slept in a bag of cats", and that's the look I was going for. She looks like someone cast a very attractive actor to play an alien with no soul.

Compare her picture above, with this causal snap of me arriving to brief the Board of Directors;

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Re: Theranos aftermath

#21

Post by bob »

The general rule of thumb is white-collar crimes require more proof of intent.

So the domestic violence will be offered to argue that she didn't intend to defraud anyone. Diminished actuality to conspire and intend to defraud.

The reality is this is a variant on the defense strategy to shift the focus on to someone not on trial. And/or seek sympathy in the hopes of nullification.


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#22

Post by LM K »

somerset wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 5:06 pm
I think it's possible for the power dynamic in a relationship to be much different in private than it appears to be in public. I know of couples where the husband appears to be the "alpha male" to the outside world, but the wife is actually the dominant one in the relationship. I'm not saying this is the case with Holmes and Balwani, nor that it's a valid defense even if it is. But I do think it's possible that Balwani was dominant and even possibly abusive in their relationship.
You're absolutely correct; what happens behind closed doors can be very different than what happens publicly.

There will be an abundance of evidence that Holmes had the freedom to shape her company. She'll have experts to build up the battered woman's defense. But her expert's assessment will be forcibly torn apart with witnesses who knew Holmes before Balwani and after Balwani.

Something that will be extremely interesting is how much her forensic psychological testing will reveal. Psychologists and/or psychiatrists on both sides will start with the MMPI-II, which is the gold standard test in forensic psychology (it's used in other settings as well). The MMPI-II is the most researched clinical assessment tool we have. And it has 2 built in lie detectors. Certainly some can trick the test. But tricking it twice? That would be nearly impossible.

The MMPI-II is very good at detecting personality disorders. I will be shocked if her tests don't support a diagnosis of at least one personality disorder.

The MMPI-II can also help diagnose of PTSD. The psychologists/psychiatrists who evaluate Holmes will use more than just the MMPI-II to diagnosis whether Holmes has PTSD. PTSD is a core diagnosis criteria for battered women's syndrome, also known as intimate partner violence. (I'll pull out my DSM tomorrow and explore the PTSD/Battered Woman's Syndrome.)

Holmes and Balwani we're going to be tried together. If I understand the timeline correctly, and I might not, the battered woman defense arose so that Holmes could be tried separately from Balwani.

ETA: Shockingly, I was wrong! :o


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Re: Theranos aftermath

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Post by LM K »

From WaPo.
Former Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes is likely to argue in her criminal trial that abuse by her ex-boyfriend, who was the company’s president, rendered her incapable of making her own decisions, according to documents unsealed in the case early Saturday morning.
:snippity:

The unusual defense strategy in one the highest-profile corporate trials in years offers clearer details on how Holmes plans to frame the implosion of a company that was once one of the industry’s start-up darlings.Holmes graced magazine covers and regularly appeared on business television programs while Theranos took in hundreds of millions of dollars from household-name investors such as Rupert Murdoch and Betsy DeVos. But her fall, after a 2015 Wall Street Journal investigation showed the company’s technology was unreliable, led to the many claims of fraud.

Several of the newly unsealed documents relate to the successful efforts by Holmes’s ex-boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, to separate his trial from hers. Holmes’s plans to argue intimate partner violence as a defense would prevent him from receiving a fair trial if the cases were joined, Balwani’s lawyers argued in the documents.

One unsealed Balwani filing from February notes the strategy: “Ms. Holmes plans to introduce evidence that Mr. Balwani verbally disparaged her and withdrew ‘affection if she displeased him’; controlled what she ate, how she dressed, how much money she could spend, who she could interact with — essentially dominating her and erasing her capacity to make decisions.”


Holmes’s lawyers introduced the possible defense in December, noting that it might call an expert witness to testify about “whether and how Ms. Holmes’ relationship with Mr. Balwani was consistent with intimate partner abuse,” and also attest to “Ms. Holmes’ particular vulnerability to an abusive relationship.” In a separate filing, Holmes’s lawyers note that it is “highly likely” Holmes will introduce evidence of “intimate partner abuse.”

Holmes’s filings provide some detail into her allegations of abuse. She alleges that Balwani monitored her calls, texts and email messages, that he threw “hard, sharp objects” at her, and that he restricted her sleep and monitored her movements, among other charges.
:snippity:

“Ms. Holmes is likely to testify herself to the reasons why she believed, relied on, and deferred to Mr. Balwani,” according to one of her legal filings in February.

Court documents had previously indicated that Holmes was evaluated by a psychologist who specializes in violence against women and interpersonal violence, leading to speculation that her attorneys could mount a so-called “mental defect” defense. The government also asked, and was granted, the chance to have Holmes evaluated by medical professionals they appointed.
:snippity:


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Re: Theranos aftermath

#24

Post by LM K »

Jury in criminal trial of Elizabeth Holmes has been selected
A jury of seven men and five women has been selected for the long-awaited criminal trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO and founder of Theranos. The twelve jurors and five alternates were sworn in Thursday. The jury appeared to be diverse, both ethnically and in terms of age.

Opening statements are set to begin Wednesday, September 8.

Holmes' attorneys, federal prosecutors and Judge Edward Davila questioned more than 80 potential jurors in a San Jose federal courtroom over the course of two days about everything from their consumption of media pertaining to Holmes, Theranos, and the trial to their feelings on law enforcement, and whether they or any loved ones have experienced domestic abuse.
:snippity:


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Foggy
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Re: Theranos aftermath

#25

Post by Foggy »

:popcorn:


We are NOT going back! - Nancy Pelosi
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