SBF’s lawyers say he never stood a chance of winning


  • SBF’s defense attorney, David Mills, admits the trial was nearly impossible to win due to SBF’s approach and strong prosecution evidence.
  • Mills, a seasoned lawyer with personal ties to SBF’s family, faced challenges with pre-trial rulings and his deviation from legal strategies.
  • Despite Mills’s extensive legal experience and philanthropic background, the case outcome strains his relationship with Sam and his family.

In the high-profile trial of Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried, his defense attorney, David Mills, has expressed that the case was an uphill battle from the start. In an eye-opening conversation with Bloomberg, Mills, a Stanford Law School professor and legal luminary, detailed the challenges that made SBF’s defense almost insurmountable. From SBF’s deviation from legal advice to the compelling testimonies of former associates, the odds were stacked against them.

The Defense’s Dilemma

Bankman-Fried, the once-celebrated crypto mogul and co-founder of FTX, found himself in a precarious position during his trial. According to Mills, SBF’s approach to handling tough questions and deviating from the planned defense strategy significantly hindered his case. Mills, a friend of SBF’s parents and a veteran in white-collar defense, observed that SBF’s performance under cross-examination was notably lacking.

This trial was a rare setback for Mills, who has a storied career including involvement in major cases like the 1980s securities fraud case against Michael Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert. He even declined to advise Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes in her fraud case. However, the emotional toll and personal connections in the trial led Mills to reconsider his future in criminal law, highlighting the unique personal challenges of this case.

The trial’s outcome was influenced by several factors beyond SBF’s control, including pre-trial rulings and compelling prosecution witnesses. These elements, coupled with SBF’s approach, left the defense with little room to maneuver.

A Legal Tightrope

Mills’s legal acumen extends beyond the courtroom. He has been involved in high-profile corporate cases, such as representing venture capital firm Benchmark Capital in its efforts to oust Travis Kalanick from Uber Technologies Inc. and advising Apple Inc. designer Jony Ive. Beyond his legal career, Mills is also a managing director at Fortress Investment Group and has launched a successful private investment firm, Harbourton Enterprises.

His philanthropic efforts, especially in reforming California’s controversial Three Strikes law, are a source of pride for Mills. His involvement in the campaign reflects his commitment to justice and change. This dedication to philanthropy and reform is a stark contrast to the world of high-stakes criminal defense, as seen in SBF’s trial.

Mills’s involvement in SBF’s defense was rooted in friendship and a love for criminal law. However, the case’s complexity and the strong testimonies from key figures like Alameda Chief Executive Officer Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founders Gary Wang and Nishad Singh made the defense’s position precarious.

If Mills had his way, the defense strategy would have been to acknowledge the prosecution’s points and focus on demonstrating a good-faith effort to save FTX. But SBF’s differing recollection and inability to align with this narrative made the case increasingly challenging.

SBF’s testimony, rather than clarifying his position, often seemed evasive, complicating the defense’s strategy. Mills’s frustration with the direction of the trial was evident, and he was notably absent when the swift verdict was delivered.

As for Mills’s relationship with SBF and his family, the trial’s outcome and its emotional toll have cast a shadow over their friendship. Despite this, the respect and regard between Mills and SBF’s family remain, as evidenced by their statement appreciating Mills’s support during a challenging time.

In summary, the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried was a complex legal battle, where the interplay of strategy, personal relationships, and the overwhelming evidence presented formidable challenges for the defense. Mills’s candid reflections on the case offer a rare glimpse into the intricate dynamics of high-profile legal defense, where sometimes, even the best strategies and intentions face insurmountable odds.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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