The first phase of the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes will start on Tuesday, with jury selection scheduled in a San Jose, California, courthouse.
Holmes is charged with six counts of fraud relating to her now-defunct medical startup. The company, founded in 2003, claimed it would revolutionize the medical testing space with a new blood diagnostic technology that could perform a range of tests on a small dose of blood. The claims were later revealed to be largely fabricated.
Theranos had reached a valuation of $10bn before reports from the Wall Street Journal and others revealed it was overstating the functions of its core technologies. The US Department of Justice accused Holmes and her former boyfriend and co-president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani of defrauding both consumers who purchased and used the tests and investors who were convinced it would become profitable.
Experts have said it may take longer than usual to find jurors in a case that has been highly publicized and is slated to take many weeks to be resolved. Dozens of potential jurors were cut before the proceedings even began after they answered in pre-trial questionnaires they had exposure to media coverage of Theranos in the past.
According to pre-trial filings, jurors can expect to hear from doctors who used the tests on their patients and from patients misled by Theranos results. Those incluir a woman whose test results falsely signaled a miscarriage despite a healthy pregnancy, a man who was falsely indicated to have prostate cancer, and two others who received false positive HIV test results.
sin embargo, lawyers for Holmes petitioned to have the scope of patient testimony severely limited, saying such anecdotes are not a statistically representative sample from the millions of tests Theranos conducted. While they are allowed to share that they were misled by the tests, patients will be barred from sharing the emotional impact of getting those false results.
Holmes is expected to lean on what is known as a Svengali defense, arguing that her role in the Theranos con was largely influenced by an allegedly abusive relationship with Balwani.
Lawyers for Balwani have called Holmes’s allegations “outrageous, salacious and inflammatory”. The 56-year-old businessman will be appearing in court at his own, separate trial in February 2022.
The court has set aside time into December for proceedings. Holmes has pleaded not guilty to all counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.