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Elizabeth Holmes Theranos trial starts today with opening arguments: What to know

Elizabeth Holmes at the federal building

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives in federal court docket on Sept. 8 for opening arguments in her hotly anticipated trial. 


David Odisho/Bloomberg through Getty Pictures

Elizabeth Holmes’ blood-testing startup was as soon as value $9 billion. The corporate not exists, and Holmes is standing trial in San Jose, California, having morphed into one of many decade’s extra infamous Silicon Valley figures. 

The disgraced Theranos founder and CEO is charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud over claims she made concerning the once-promising well being care startup and its purportedly revolutionary blood-testing invention. Investigations revealed the know-how had severe issues.

The trial, which is predicted to final for months, begins at present with opening arguments in a federal court docket presided over by US District Decide Edward Davila. A 12-member jury will hear from the prosecution first. 

The courtroom drama has been over three years within the making, with Holmes initially charged in June 2018. The trial has been delayed a number of occasions by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the start of Holmes’ baby on July 10 of this yr. 

Here is what to learn about one of many greatest trials of the last decade up to now.


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What happened to Holmes and Theranos?

In 2003, Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to found Theranos with the goal of disrupting the blood-testing industry. The company said it was developing proprietary technology that required gathering a smaller amount of blood than a conventional intravenous draw and was more portable than traditional tests sent off to a lab.

Theranos began to see more mainstream attention in 2013 when it signed up Walgreens and Safeway as potential customers. At one point the startup was valued at more than $9 billion.

Holmes began to appear on the cover of various publications, including Fortune, sometimes drawing comparisons to Steve Jobs for her seeming powers of disruption and a penchant for high-necked black tops.

But the fortunes of both Holmes and Theranos began to change in 2015 when The Wall Street Journal took a deeper look into the company. The Journal reported that only a small portion of tests were being done with the company’s testing machine, named Edison, and that many tests were being done on other companies’ machines, using diluted blood samples. The accuracy of test results that patients received from Theranos was also called into question.

All this led to the charges filed against Holmes in 2018, a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the permanent shuttering of Theranos shortly thereafter.

A 2019 documentary, a book called Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou and multiple podcasts about the company’s precipitous fall helped bring mainstream attention to the story.

Former Theranos employee and whistleblower Tyler Shultz spoke with CNET in 2020 about the whole saga.

What is Holmes charged with?

Holmes is formally charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.

“The charges stem from [Holmes’] allegedly misleading representations about [Theranos] and its medical testing know-how,” reads a statement from the US district court in Northern California

Basically, Holmes is accused of mendacity to sufferers about how the corporate’s blood testing labored and the way efficient the exams had been. A number of the expenses additionally relate to Holmes allegedly deceptive buyers concerning the inside workings at Theranos and the way a lot income the corporate was anticipated to generate.

If convicted, Holmes might be sentenced to as much as 20 years in jail.

What’s Holmes’ aspect of the story?

Although Holmes denied that the allegations made by the Journal’s unique reporting had been true, she’s by no means advised her aspect of the story from that time on in depth.

“That is what occurs once you work to alter issues,” Holmes mentioned on CNBC’s Mad Cash in 2015. “First they suppose you are loopy, then they battle you, after which all the sudden you modify the world.”

The 37-year-old reportedly pursued a e-book deal to get her story out. The e-book by no means materialized, however a broadly acclaimed HBO documentary concerning the Theranos collapse, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley by director Alex Gibney, got here out in 2019. It did not painting Holmes in a flattering gentle and he or she did not cooperate with the filmmakers, so her tackle the occasions of the previous half-decade largely stays a thriller.

Holmes’ attorneys come from the high-powered Washington agency that defended President Invoice Clinton at his impeachment trial. One risk is they are going to argue she was following one thing just like the Silicon Valley “faux it until you make it” ethos and that she all the time believed within the long-term potential of the corporate and its know-how to finally ship on its guarantees.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Holmes’ attorneys have mentioned she might argue that “she believed any alleged misrepresentations had been true and accordingly that Theranos was a legit enterprise producing worth for buyers.”

On Aug. 28, newly unsealed court docket filings instructed Holmes might search to defend herself by alleging she suffered psychological, sexual and emotional abuse by the hands of former Theranos president and onetime boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, and that due to submissiveness to him, she believed allegedly fraudulent statements she made had been true. Attorneys for Balwani known as abuse allegations “outrageous.” One of many filings, by attorneys for Holmes, mentioned she was more likely to testify.

We’ll quickly see whether or not Holmes finally takes the stand to inform her aspect of issues.

How can I watch the trial?

The trial formally started Tuesday, with opening arguments anticipated the next day. Decide Edward Davila is presiding. There will not be a web based feed of the trial, and tv cameras will not be allowed within the courtroom, so the easiest way to observe the case might be through reporters within the room taking notes the old school manner.

In complete, over 200 potential witnesses have been recognized between the prosecution and the protection, so it is attainable testimony will go on for weeks. 

Balwani faces comparable expenses in a separate trial scheduled for subsequent yr.

Each Holmes and Balwani have pleaded not responsible.

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