Judge Denies Sam Bankman-Fried’s Pre-Trial Release – SBF had previously breached his bail conditions in minor ways, like employing VPNs to stream football games. Although the court didn’t deem these relatively harmless violations sufficient to revoke his bail, they remained vigilant against potential future infractions. Subsequently, he was cautioned for using Signal and other messaging apps to communicate with the remaining FTX staff.
The final blow came when Caroline Ellison’s private diary was leaked, resulting in his return to prison. In his most recent request for release, filed just yesterday, SBF contended that his return to incarceration was due to a violation of his First Amendment rights. As per his legal representatives, the release of Ellison’s diary and his efforts to contact essential witnesses were framed as expressions of free speech.
Nevertheless, the court held a contrasting perspective, asserting that the unlawful purpose behind SBF’s actions stripped them of First Amendment protection. “The Defendant argues that the district court failed to consider the extent to which he was engaged in activity that was protected by the First Amendment. But the district court expressly noted that it was “exceptionally mindful of the defendant’s First Amendment rights.”
“It correctly determined that when a person engages in speech to commit a criminal offense such as witness tampering, that speech falls outside the zone of constitutional protection.” If SBF’s prior bail conditions couldn’t be overturned, his legal team sought a less stringent detention arrangement. Earlier, they had advocated for increased time spent at the courthouse to provide SBF with improved internet access, an additional laptop, and similar accommodations.
The court declined this request as well, citing SBF’s past actions as evidence that there was a significant potential for harm to others if he were permitted any form of communication with them. “The finding of probable cause to believe that the Defendant-Appellant had committed criminal offenses while on pretrial release raised a rebuttable presumption that no condition or combination of conditions will assure that the person will not pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community.”
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Additionally, the court pointed out that before the decision to revoke bail, numerous attempts had been made to impose certain restrictions on SBF’s detention without resorting to imprisonment. Regrettably, on each occasion, SBF had managed to identify and exploit minor loopholes, leaving law enforcement with no choice but to incarcerate him. This pattern of circumvention further influenced the court’s decision.