This means that SBF’s defense could be spending up to $8,400 an hour for these expert witnesses, a staggering figure given that high-profile trials like these can drag out for a long time.
This list of expert witnesses released so far includes Lawrence Akka, Thomas Bishop, Brian Kim, Joseph Pimbley, Bradley Smith, Peter Vinella, and Andrew Di Wu.
Expert witnesses are persons with specialized knowledge in a particular field. They are usually called upon in court proceedings to break down complex or technical issues that the Judge and the jury may not be conversant with.
According to the defendant’s notice, SBF’s expert witnesses will give evidence of various issues, including campaign finance laws, the finances of FTX and its sister company, Alameda Research, and the crypto exchange’s software infrastructure.
The charge was dropped because it didn’t form part of the US government’s extradition agreement with the Bahamas government, and thus had no legs to stand on. But it seems defending himself against such allegations is important to the FTX founder given he is preparing a defense for it.
They further argue that these experts will offer legal conclusions that “invade” the power of the court and the jury, so the court should exercise its “gatekeeping authority” and preclude their testimonies.”
The Prosecutor’s motion contains extensive arguments on why each of these expert witnesses’ opinions should be excluded. They stated that Professor Smith’s testimony is “irrelevant, confusing, and a waste of time” since SBF’s trial doesn’t include a charge stemming from the defendant’s “illegal campaign finance scheme.”
Meanwhile, they argue that Mr. Vinella’s testimony should be excluded on the grounds of qualifications, relevancy, and admissibility. If rejected, they have the court to grant them a Daubert hearing to evaluate his “qualifications, methodology, and the relevance and reliability of his proposed testimony.
Mr. Vinella seems to be SBF’s primary expert witness as he is set to opine on various topics, including FTX’s operations and how the company took “commercially reasonable steps” to protect customers’ funds despite the lack of regulatory clarity in the US.