Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ trial: five details from the opening arguments

Thursday - 09/09/2021 11:26
Theranos’s founder Elizabeth Holmes leaves the courthouse in San Jose, California, on Wednesday © Peter DaSilva/Reuters
Theranos’s founder Elizabeth Holmes leaves the courthouse in San Jose, California, on Wednesday © Peter DaSilva/Reuters
Lawyers offer conflicting narratives on whether Theranos founder misled investors

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In a California courtroom, the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes boiled down to two competing arguments: did she lie and cheat to make money, as prosecutors alleged, or did she simply fail to deliver on an ambitious vision to reinvent blood testing? Jurors heard opening arguments on Wednesday in a trial that could last months, involve dozens of witnesses and test the boundaries of Silicon Valley boosterism.

The proceedings drew a long queue of interested observers — including three women dressed in all-black ensembles that appeared to mimic Holmes’s signature style.

Holmes has been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly defrauding investors and patients by making false claims about Theranos’s blood tests and finances. She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The trial will resume on Friday and legal analysts said it could boil down to a notoriously tricky concept: the Theranos founder’s state of mind and whether she believed her own hype, despite evidence to the contrary.

“It is one of the hardest things that the legal system has to deal with, because there really isn’t a way of reading somebody’s mind,” said Jessica Roth, a professor at Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York and a former federal prosecutor.

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 Keywords: Silicon Valley

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