This week, the key witnesses in the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood-testing start-up Theranos, a former lab director who testified about some of the company’s inner workings that failed. lose. But another issue loomed over the course of the proceedings: How long will Miss Holmes’ trial last?
Here are the key takeaways from this week’s events.
Obstructed by delay
The first is the fear of Covid. Then a jury had to go to the funeral. After that, a testimony was canceled the main country. And on Tuesday, the court’s technology system was down, delaying proceedings by several hours and forcing lawyers to show evidence on projectors.
Judge Edward Davila of California’s Northern District Court, who is overseeing the case, apologized and said he was “very embarrassed” about the technical problems. The witness stand is equipped with lights.
Postponements, cancellations and other unexpected disruptions have added to time pressure on the trial, which was originally scheduled to begin in mid-2020 but has since been postponed multiple times due to legal issues. procedural issues, the pandemic and finally Miss Holmes’ pregnancy. .
By the time the jury selection began in August, six years had passed since the Wall Street Journal revealed Theranos’ claims their technology was nothing like theirs. Many witnesses have said while testifying that their memory of the events – some from more than a decade ago – is unclear.
Understanding the Elizabeth Holmes Trial
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood test startup Theranos, is currently on trial on two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of phone fraud.
It took the prosecution 10 weeks to get 23 witnesses from a list of nearly 200 people they could call. By contrast, Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial for last year’s murder in Kenosha, Wis., tried 26 witnesses over six days.
Many prominent names on the prosecutor’s list such as Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch or David Boies have not been named. Judge Davila’s public schedule expects the trial to end on December 10.
On Wednesday, the prosecution provided some clarity about the timing. Prosecutors said they would likely settle the case against Ms Holmes next week. Then her defense will be up next.
A lab director who has never visited the lab
Lynette Sawyer, a public health physician who was co-director of Theranos’ lab in 2014 and 2015, attests to the lab’s overnight flight.
Dr. Sawyer says she’s never set foot inside it, for example. She said she didn’t know they were developing their own tests and hadn’t heard of Edison and miniLab, Theranos’ testing machine, or its nanotubes, blood collection boxes. She said that she had not received reports of the laboratory’s activities, nor had she met Ms. Holmes.
Her job, Dr. Sawyer testified, was to sign documents she couldn’t edit. She left, she said, because she felt “very upset about the lack of clarity about the lab.”
Dr Sawyer worked alongside Dr Sunil Dhawan, who testified earlier that he spent a total of 5 to 10 hours working for Theranos. Dr. Dhawan is a dermatologist with no experience in laboratory science.
Dr Kingshuk Das, who became laboratory director of Theranos in 2016, provided a look at the debacle from key media reports about the company – and how Ms Holmes reacted.
Shortly after The Journal covered Theranos in the fall of 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the regulator that oversees lab testing, conducted a lab test of the startup. . The agency then sent the company a notice titled “Deficiency Level of Condition – Immediate Jeopardy.” In its report, the agency pointed out how Theranos’ lab was not complying with regulations and said it’s possible that any patient tests the company conducted on one of its machines were inaccurate.
When Dr. Das questioned Holmes, he said, she suggested an alternative explanation from Daniel Edlin, one of Theranos employees: The Theranos machine was not faulty; There is simply a problem with the quality control process.
Dr. Das disagreed and concluded that Theranos should cancel up to 60,000 exams, sending patients a report that simply reads “No effect”.
During the cross-examination, Ms Holmes’ lawyer Lance Wade indicated that she agreed to drop the checks, despite “a lot of media scrutiny” and “potentially divisiveness” serious turn for the company”. Dr Das, who answered most of Mr Wade’s questions one word, said he was unaware of Mrs Holmes’ intentions. Unlike previous laboratory directors, Dr. Das reported directly to Ms. Holmes.
Finally, Dr. Das testified that Theranos’ testing machines, which promised to perform a comprehensive blood test on a single drop of blood, were malfunctioning from the start.
“I find these devices unsuitable for clinical use,” he said.