Judge could unseal some mental health records in Elizabeth Holmes case
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes (center) and her lawyer leave court on June 15, 2021. Holmes is expected to stand trial on wire fraud and other charges later in the year.
Federal judge in the fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes plans to release details of her psychological assessment as part of a media request to release parts of her case.
Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, has filed a petition asking the court to unseal documents in the Holmes case. Lawyers for Dow Jones said about 40% of the documents in the Holmes case remained under seal.
“This is a very large volume of documents, as the court painfully knows,” John Cline, an attorney for Holmes, said at Tuesday’s hearing. “And Ms. Holmes’ point of view is that probably at this point a significant part of it can be unsealed, but not all of it.”
Federal prosecutors are backing the request to unseal parts of the case, saying if Holmes is considering making a mental health defense then they must be prepared.
“The main thing we are concerned about is the continued sealing at the current level, including even high level matters including Mrs Holmes’ defense against rule 12.2 and this is hampering the government’s preparation for trial,” said Kelly Volkar, a deputy US attorney, referring to a mental health defense. “The question is, how far will the sealing go?”
Prosecutors asked a psychology expert to assess Holmes after his defense attorneys revealed they were planning to bring in a clinical psychologist to testify about a “mental illness or defect” involving the question of guilt.
Another set of documents that can be unsealed is why Judge Edward Davila broke the trials of Holmes and his co-accused Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. Balwani was his business partner and held the position of COO at Theranos. The couple had a romantic relationship but never disclosed it to their investors.
Holmes and Balwani’s relationship is said to have ended around the same time he left Theranos.
“I repeat that Mr. Balwani never requested that any part of these minutes be filed under seal,” said Jeffrey Coopersmith, attorney for Balwani. “Dow Jones received a notice of sealed deposit a year and a half ago. They’re filing that now. I think we understand why, they like to sell newspapers. It is on the eve of Mrs Holmes’ trial. “
Holmes and Balwani both face a dozen criminal wire frauds and conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges. Prosecutors say the two patients, doctors and investors misled Theranos’ blood test technology. Both have pleaded not guilty.
In an interview with CNBC in July, former Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the Theranos scandal, John Carreyrou, said Holmes’ defense strategy may be to blame her ex-boyfriend.
“Much of her defense now seems to be blaming Sunny and basically telling the jury that Sunny was holding her psychologically in his grip,” Carreyrou said. “Her defense plans to argue that he was the older boyfriend, 19 years older who was really the puppeteer here, and she was the puppet. And obviously, they’re going to bring in a psychologist to help make this case. . “
Davila has ordered lawyers for Holmes and Balwani to sort through documents that could be unsealed and redacted by the end of the week.