The internet in federal jail is apparently not very reliable, and that is prompting Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) legal team to renew their calls to secure him early release so that he may better prepare for his upcoming legal case.
In a filing submitted to a federal judge on Friday, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said that their client is not being provided adequate access to the internet to review documents as part of his defense. After being taken into custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Manhattan, the lawyers argue that they have “lost time to effectively prepare for trial” because conditions at the jail hamper the defense’s preparations.
“We therefore respectfully reiterate our request that the court order Mr. Bankman Fried’s temporary release,” wrote his attorneys.
This request follows an earlier one filed on September 5 that outlined various ways conditions in the correctional facility are creating obstacles for Bankman-Fried’s defense.
According to his lawyers, the government assured them that SBF would have access to a laptop on weekdays from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., but those hours haven’t been granted in practice. In one instance on September 1, the lawyers said SBF was called back to his cell at 2:30 p.m. for a headcount, which cost him four hours of preparation.
In another instance on September 6, they said SBF was not released from his cell until 11 a.m. Beyond being released late, the lawyers said SBF could hardly access the internet, and lost more time just trying to upload a single document to their database for discovery material.
“Despite the government’s efforts, there does not appear to be a way to solve the internet access problem in the cellblock,” wrote SBF’s lawyers. “The defendant cannot prepare for trial with these kinds of limitations.”
The sheer volume of material in the FTX has proven to be a logistical nightmare for the defense. On August 28, federal prosecutors shared about four million pages in documents, a load the defense lamented would be too much to review—even if they had “unlimited review time” ahead of the first expected trial on October 3.
Complicating the matter is the defense’s contention that SBF is the only one with complete knowledge of the companies and facts in question.
Initially, SBF was allowed to prepare for his defense from his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California albeit with some restrictions on his internet access. However, the judge in his case ordered him incarcerated on August 11 over prosecutors’ concerns about possible witness tampering.