'A Failed Business Does Not Make a CEO a Criminal'

Opening arguments begin in Elizabeth Holmes trial
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2021 9:41 AM CDT
Elizabeth Holmes Jurors Hear She's a New Mother
Elizabeth Holmes leaves the United States Federal Courthouse in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.   (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

The fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes got underway on Wednesday, and the Wall Street Journal notes that her defense team made a point to let the jury know Holmes is a new mom in opening statements. Attorney Lance Wade pointed out the father of the baby, partner Billy Evans, in the courtroom and noted that Holmes' mother, Noel Holmes, was in court, too. The 37-year-old Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of defrauding investors and patients through her defunct blood-testing company, Theranos. Going to trial instead of taking a plea was a risky move for Holmes, who is expected to argue that her former boyfriend and business partner, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, manipulated and abused her and is primarily to blame for Theranos' troubles. His trial is scheduled for next year. Some highlights from opening statements:

  • Prosecution: "This is a case about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money," said Assistant US Attorney Robert Leach, per NPR. "It's a crime on Main Street, and it's a crime in Silicon Valley."
  • Defense: "Theranos failed for a lot of reasons, but it failed in part because it made mistakes," said Wade. "Ms. Holmes made mistakes, but mistakes are not crimes. A failed business does not make a CEO a criminal."
  • Prosecution: Holmes herself knew the company's blood tests were inaccurate but took no action, said Leach. “In the course of doing so, she skewed the medical decisions of patients and she put them at risk." (Jurors will hear from some of those patients.)
  • Defense: In an apparent hint of the strategy to blame Balwani, Wade told the jurors, "You will learn that Mr. Balwani did not take well to people who disagreed with him," per the AP. “You’ll have to wait for all of the evidence, and then decide how to fairly view that relationship in total."
(More Elizabeth Holmes stories.)

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