After nearly four months in court, the jury in the trial of the former Silicon Valley celebrity Elizabeth Holmes began deliberations on Monday. The committee of eight men and four women will decide whether Holmes — whose blood-testing firm, Theranos, imploded in controversy — should be convicted of 11 counts of fraud-related offenses.
We don’t know how long the jury will take to come at their conclusion. The soonest the verdict may come is today: They are due to reassemble in a federal courthouse in San Jose at 8:30 a.m. There are no court procedures on Wednesday, but the jury would resume on Thursday if needed.
The jurors must reach a unanimous conclusion, and failure to do so could result in a mistrial. Some legal experts have stated that extended debates imply things may go Holmes’s way.
If convicted, Holmes faces up to 20 years in jail. The sentencing would occur at a later period.
Since beginning in late July, Holmes’s trial has gone on for weeks longer than originally projected. (You can catch up with my colleagues’ reports on opening remarks, James Mattis’s testimony, the prosecution’s arguments, the defense’s case and closing arguments.)
Arguably the most surprising moment of the trial occurred at the conclusion, when Holmes took the stand in her own defense. Over several days, she provided her account of Theranos’s downfall, saying that she felt the company’s technology worked and that she had been controlled by Ramesh Balwani, her former business partner.
Balwani, who was also her longtime boyfriend and faces a separate trial next year, had controlled every area of her life, Holmes testified.
On the stand, Holmes sobbed and her voice broke. She stated she had begun to rely on Balwani, who is about 20 years older than her, after she had been raped while a student at Stanford.
Though it was difficult to interpret jurors’ reactions under their masks, the testimony roused a drowsy courtroom, my colleagues informed me.
“The prosecution’s case has been all about presenting cold, hard facts,” said Erin Griffith, who has been covering the trial. “Holmes’s testimony provided emotion and narrative. It is surely more memorable to jurors than the minutiae of a profit and loss statement or an immunoassay validation report.”
A conviction for Holmes may send shock waves across Silicon Valley and terrify executives into stepping more cautiously when selling to investors. But it’s possible an acquittal may have the same impact.
Consider another technology executive, Ellen Pao. Pao lost her discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in 2015, but her case exposed long-standing gender inequalities and compelled corporations to make improvements, Griffith noted.
“Regardless of the outcome of the Holmes trial,” Griffith informed me. “Or, as they have been doing for the last year and a half, start-ups might continue soliciting money at higher valuations with less development to report.”
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