Jurors in Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial started their sixth day of deliberations on Wednesday, with Silicon Valley observers anxiously awaiting a verdict.
Holmes is facing 11 fraud and conspiracy charges and up to 20 years behind bars for allegedly lying to investors and patients about her company’s blood testing technology.
Attorneys rested their case in mid-December after three months of proceedings — and jurors in San Jose federal court have been deliberating since last Monday, with a three-day weekend in between for the Christmas holiday.
The jury of eight men and four women has to decide whether Holmes is guilty of each individual charge, and they have the option of convicting her on some charges and clearing her of others. If they become permanently deadlocked, the judge overseeing could declare a mistrial.
Jurors have given a few clues about their progress.
On Tuesday morning, the jury had a 23-minute meeting with the judge, as well as prosecutors and defense attorneys, court documents show. Holmes was not present and the sealed documents provide no detail on the content of the meeting.
Last week, jurors in the case sent out two notes to the judge. One note asked whether the jurors could take jury instructions home with them — a request the judge denied. Another note asked that the court replay audio recordings of Holmes talking to investors about Theranos, which the judge allowed on Thursday.
Yet legal experts caution against reading too much into lengthy jury deliberations. Deliberations in Wall Street crook Raj Rajaratnam’s trial took 12 days, while the jury in “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli’s case took five.
“Fraud is complicated,” Amanda Kramer, a New York-based white-collar criminal defense lawyer, told NPR. “There’s a lot of evidence that is dry when it comes in at trial and it’s time-consuming for jurors to synthesize all of the evidence that they’ve seen and heard.”
The Holmes jurors are weighing more than 900 exhibits and testimony from 32 witnesses, including Holmes herself.
Meanwhile, Manhattan jurors in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking trial are also taking their time to reach a verdict. On Wednesday, the judge overseeing the case warned that they should be prepared to deliberate every day this week, including New Year’s Eve on Friday, until they reach a verdict.
The judge said the tight schedule was necessary due to skyrocketing coronavirus cases in New York.
If a juror in either the Holmes or Maxwell trials tests positive and is forced to quarantine, the court would select an alternate. The jury would then have to start deliberations over from the beginning.