Attorney Aaron Spolin of Spolin Law PC Analyzes Criminal Law Bill SB 775, Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Yesterday – KKTV 11 News

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 3:46 PM MDT|Updated: 8 hours ago

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Link to video: Aaron Spolin Analyzes SB 775

Attorney Aaron Spolin of Spolin Law P.C. Analyzes Criminal Law Bill SB 775, Signed by Governor...
Attorney Aaron Spolin of Spolin Law P.C. Analyzes Criminal Law Bill SB 775, Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Yesterday. (PRNewsfoto/Spolin Law P.C.)

After spending months in the California state legislature, Senate Bill 775 was just signed into law yesterday, October 5th, 2021, by Governor Gavin Newsom. This revolutionary new bill will change the lives of hundreds of California inmates, resulting in many individuals leaving prison decades before they would otherwise be free.

Criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin explains this new law, how it will affect criminal cases, and how prison inmates can achieve their freedom if their cases fall under the law. Mr. Spolin’s analysis has been published in video form, viewable here.

The following information explains the history of the law and some details about its application.

What is Senate Bill 775?

This bill, sponsored by District 13 senator Josh Becker, was introduced to the State Senate on February 19th, 2021, passed by the Senate on June 2nd, and passed by assembly on September 10th. Now, just leaving the Governor’s desk, this recently signed bill will serve justice to those wrongly convicted of a killing by expanding on the legal protections stipulated in Senate Bill 1437.

How does Senate Bill 775 differ from Senate Bill 1437?

Senate Bill 1437, passed in 2018, prohibited prosecutors from seeking first or second-degree murder sentences for a “felony murder” case in which the person on trial was “not the actual killer, did not act with the intent to kill, or was not a major participant in the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life.”

Senate Bill 1437, and now its counterpart Senate Bill 775, challenged the previously established “natural and probable consequences doctrine” under which someone’s malice was implied solely by their participation in the crime.

As these bills sought to highlight, such a concept had many flaws and fails to consider many very probable scenarios. As a result, those who may have participated in a crime, but were unaware of the killing and had no intent to inflict harm were put behind bars for murder in the first or second degree alongside the killer themself.

However, while Senate Bill 1437 was the first legislation to initially highlight this disparity in the criminal justice system, it did have some holes of its own that Senate Bill 775 hopes to fill and address; among the largest being the expansion of the Senate Bill 1437 protection to those convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder, not just murder.

Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 775, defendants in these situations would oftentimes plead guilty to a lesser charge than murder, like manslaughter, with hopes of a shorter sentence and a chance at a normal life once again. However in doing so, these people cut themselves out of chance to receive the post-conviction relief offered solely to murder convicts under Senate Bill 1437. Additionally, individuals convicted of attempted murder paradoxically received a worse outcome than those convicted of murder.

Senate Bill 775 has changed that, now allowing those with attempted murder and manslaughter convictions to petition to have those crimes (and the corresponding sentences) removed. Having this relief granted is not guaranteed, however, as they and their lawyer will need to convince a judge that they were not a “major participant who acted with reckless indifference to human life.”

Learn More About How an Inmate Can Benefit:

To hear criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin provide further commentary about yesterday’s new law, watch his analysis at the Spolin Law P.C. website. Spolin Law P.C. has already overturned multiple murder convictions through SB 1437 (the parent law of SB 775). The firm is excited to help more inmates with the benefit of this new law.

For further questions or to speak with Aaron Spolin or another attorney at Spolin Law P.C., call (866) 716-2805.

SOURCE Spolin Law P.C.

The above press release was provided courtesy of PRNewswire. The views, opinions and statements in the press release are not endorsed by Gray Media Group nor do they necessarily state or reflect those of Gray Media Group, Inc.

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Donziger enlists defense pro William Taylor for criminal appeal – Reuters

  • Zuckerman Spaeder partner contesting Steven Donziger’s conviction and sentence
  • Taylor known for defending ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn
  • Recent clients include Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

The company and law firm names shown above are generated automatically based on the text of the article. We are improving this feature as we continue to test and develop in beta. We welcome feedback, which you can provide using the feedback tab on the right of the page.

(Reuters) – Disbarred lawyer Steven Donziger, whose decades-long legal battle with Chevron Corp over rainforest pollution in Ecuador led to his own criminal contempt prosecution in New York, has enlisted a new lawyer to try to undo his conviction and prison sentence.

William Taylor, a founding partner at national law firm Zuckerman Spaeder, on Monday filed a notice that he will ask the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Donziger’s July conviction and sentencing last week. U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan sentenced Donziger to six month behind bars on Friday for defying court orders.

Taylor declined to comment. He will work alongside Donziger lawyer Martin Garbus of Offit Kurman. Rita Glavin, a special prosecutor in the case, declined to comment.

Taylor has taken many high-profile cases over the years. His most recent clients include Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who reached a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. prosecutors last month over bank and wire fraud charges, and social media persona “Roaring Kitty,” whose online posts helped spark January’s trading frenzy in GameStop Corp.

The Washington, D.C., lawyer represented Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief who was accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid in 2011 before the criminal charges were dropped.

He also represented former Obama White House counsel and ex-Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Gregory Craig, who was found not guilty in 2019 of lying about work he performed for Ukraine in a case that grew out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Though many of Donziger’s attorneys have represented him pro bono, his former lead lawyer Andrew Frisch sued him last year for non-payment. Taylor did not respond to a question asking about his decision to represent Donziger and how he will be paid.

Donziger, who was disbarred in New York last year, was charged in August 2019 with failing to turn over his computer, phones and other electronic devices, among other conduct. The New York City resident has been in home detention since August 2019 to address concerns of flight risk.

His contempt case stems from post-judgment orders in a civil case in which a Manhattan judge in 2014 barred enforcement in the United States of a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp that Donziger had won in an Ecuadorian court. The judge said the Ecuadorian judgment had been secured through bribery, fraud and extortion.

Donziger remains under home confinement. Preska ordered him to begin his sentence unless he files a motion for release pending appeal by Friday that requests expedited consideration, said Ronald Kuby, another lawyer for Donziger.

The case is United States v. Donziger, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:19-cr-00561.

For United States: Rita Glavin of Glavin PLLC; and Brian Maloney of Seward & Kissel

For Donziger: William Taylor of Zuckerman Spaeder; Martin Garbus of Offit Kurman; and Ronald Kuby

Read more:

Lawyer who sued Chevron sentenced to six months in contempt case

Disbarred Chevron foe Donziger pleads for time served sentence

Special prosecutor: ‘no specific recommendation’ on Donziger sentence

Sebastien Malo reporters on environmental, climate and energy litigation. Reach him at

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Jenner & Block Lands Ex-CIA Lawyer, Organized Crime Prosecutor – Bloomberg Law

Jenner & Block has landed Shreve Ariail, a former Central Intelligence Agency deputy general counsel and federal organized crime and gangs prosecutor, the firm said Monday.

Ariail joins Jenner as a partner in Washington in several firm practices. He is the seventh former government official to join the firm so far this year, and is one of 11 former federal prosecutors at the firm.

Ariail will advise clients in industries such as technology, which has seen a rising number of national security and other investigations.

“Shreve’s unique background and expertise will immediately benefit clients who are facing sensitive national security issues, government investigations, or other multidimensional matters of importance,” said Co-Managing Partners Katya Jestin and Randy Mehrberg, in a statement.

Ariail said in an interview that he expects to “be handling white-collar investigations and most with a national security angle.” That could include foreign investment matters that come before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, called CFIUS, at the Treasury Department.

While he was at the CIA, which he joined in May 2018, Ariail was the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Investigations. He advised agency leadership and managed its response to executive branch and sensitive congressional investigations.

Ariail headed all agency litigation, supervising its role in criminal cases brought by the Justice Department. Those cases included prosecutions for espionage, material support to terrorism, theft of trade secrets, disclosure of classified information, cyber-hacking, fraud and money laundering, among other matters.

“Shreve has proven to be thoughtful, careful, and strategic over the course of his career in public service,” said David Bitkower, chair of Jenner & Block’s Investigations, Compliance and Defense Practice and chair of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice, in a statement.

“He will be a key resource for our clients as they navigate government enforcement and national security concerns and congressional scrutiny.”

Prior to joining the CIA, Ariail spent a decade as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. While leading the Organized Crime and Gangs Section, he supervised a unit of more than 20 lawyers, investigators, and staff prosecuting violent and corrupt criminal enterprises and business organizations for racketeering, money-laundering, public corruption, narcotics trafficking, violence, bribery, extortion, and fraud.

He also investigated and prosecuted terrorism cases brought by the Justice Department. They included U.S. v. Ibrahim Harun, where Ariail and his colleagues won the 2017 conviction of a senior al-Qaeda terrorist for his role in the deaths of two U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan, and in a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.

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Matt Gaetz Has Apparently Hired a Who’s Who of Sex-Crime Lawyers to Defend Him – Vanity Fair

One of them represented the gynecologist accused of sexual assault by 200 patients. 

The last time we checked in with the legal comings and goings of Congressman Matt Gaetz, things were not looking too hot for the Florida Republican from the perspective of not being charged with numerous crimes. Since the news broke this spring that he was under investigation for paying women for sex and, separately, for sleeping with a minor and transporting her across state lines, the various hits have included:

Gaetz has denied any and all allegations against him. And while the last month has seemingly brought a lull in developments re: his plight, which might lead some to believe the congressman, recently wed, is in the legal clear, a new report from The Daily Beast suggests that’s probably not the case:

While the federal sex crimes investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has not fueled the kinds of explosive headlines it generated when the news first broke in late March, the case shows no signs of a slowdown. In fact, legal experts told The Daily Beast, the perceived lull is nothing outside the norm and can be chalked up to a number of factors—including a wide range of charges that investigators could be exploring. Although Gaetz and his allies like to interpret the lack of charges as an indication of innocence, the delays could just as easily suggest that the charges that could be coming down the pike are extremely grave and complex.

And if you were looking for an indication of just how seriously Gaetz himself is taking the prospect of charges, look no further than the high-powered team of attorneys the beleaguered Florida man has brought on for his defense.

That team, according to reporter Roger Sollenberger, includes attorney Marc Mukasey, who has defended the Trump Organization in a number of high-profile battles, as well as Isabelle Kirshner, a top criminal defense lawyer who represented Robert Hadden, the ex-Columbia University gynecologist accused by 200 patients of sexual assault. (In 2016, Hadden pleaded guilty to committing a criminal sexual act and forcibly touching two patients. He lost his medical license, but didn’t have to serve time in prison.) Meanwhile, Gaetz’s campaign has retained the services of New York trial lawyer Marc Fernich, who has the distinction of having defended some of history’s most notorious criminals, including monster Jeffrey Epstein, Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán (a.k.a. El Chapo), and Keith Raniere, who was sentenced to 120 years in prison for running the NXIVM sex cult where women were branded and forced into sexual slavery.

All of which suggests Gaetz is taking the possibility of winding up in major legal trouble quite seriously!

Tristan Snell, a former assistant New York attorney general, told The Daily Beast that the lineup suggests the congressman is “anticipating a trial.”

“It looks like a scorched-earth approach,” Snell told The Daily Beast. “These are all big out-of-town lawyers. If your goal is to resolve something, you typically hire the top criminal defense attorney in the district, someone who’s a repeat customer there and has a good working relationship with that U.S. attorney’s office. But these attorneys can go down there, burn down the building, and not have to worry about going back in the next day.”

A spokesperson for Gaetz declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment. A lawyer familiar with the investigation told Sollenberger the defense team quite clearly reflects not just the gravity of the allegations but the scope of what the feds are looking into. “This is a sitting congressman, and they’ll fight everything tooth and nail,” the attorney said. “You’ve got to keep in mind there are a number of crimes under investigation here. There’s the [alleged] sex trafficking, prostitution, obstruction of justice, and the [Department of Justice] Public Integrity Unit has an even larger case with the political influence and marijuana stuff. And on top of that, it seems campaign finance as well.”

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Britney Spears’ Attorney Believes Law Enforcement Will Take ‘Hard Look’ Into Jamie Spears – Variety

After 13 years of being in charge of his daughter’s life, Britney Spears’ father has been suspended from her conservatorship. But the pop star’s attorney, Mathew Rosengart, is still pledging to fully investigate Jamie Spears’ conduct.

“Jamie Spears and others are going to face even more serious ramifications for his misconduct,” Rosengart said on Wednesday during a brief press conference, following the hearing that resulted in the suspension of Spears’ father.

“I said at the outset that my firm and I were going to take a top-to-bottom look at what Jamie Spears and his representatives have done here,” Rosengart added. “That’s already in process, and it will continue for as long as it can possibly do that to get justice for Britney.”

Rosengart declined to comment on whether he believes Spears’ father is guilty of criminal conduct. But, he told reporters and fans that he suspects law enforcement will be taking a “hard look” into recent allegations that the singer’s father was behind a secret surveillance operation in his famous daughter’s home, bugging her bedroom and tracking her phone, without her knowledge.

If true, those claims could qualify as criminal activity, given that California, where Spears’ home is located, is a two-party consent state.

“I used to work for the justice department. I don’t anymore. I don’t have that kind of power,” Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, said Wednesday afternoon, outside the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse. “But I suspect law enforcement — and it’s law enforcement’s decision, not mine — will be taking a hard look at what the Times uncovered and reported.”

Last weekend, The New York Times released its second documentary, “Controlling Britney Spears,” which unveiled explosive allegations that Spears had been subjected to electronic surveillance. Among the publication’s findings is that Spears’ father had hired a firm, Black Box Security, which planted a bug in Spears’ home, capturing private conversations between her children, boyfriend and counsel. According to the doc, Spears’ father paid the security firm with funds from his daughter’s estate, in his role as conservator of her estate. A former employee of Black Box, Alex Vlasov, provided the Times with extensive proof and materials to support the accusations.

In court on Wednesday, Rosengart told the judge that Spears’ father had “plotted and schemed to place a listening device in my client’s bedroom.” Rosengart also praised Vlasov as a “whistleblower.” (An attorney for the elder Spears, Vivian Thoreen, told Judge Brenda Penny, “We looked into this. We dispute the allegations,” but she did not elaborate any further.)

Speaking outside of the courthouse on Wednesday, Rosengart told the crowd he believes Thoreen was aggressively fighting for the conservatorship to be terminated — rather than her client being suspended — because termination would have effectively absolved Spears’ father of any potential wrongdoing.

With suspension, Spears’ father is now obligated, under the law, to turn over his files to Spears’ new, short-term conservators. (Accountant John Zabel is assuming temporarily control of the estate until next steps are determined, though Rosengart expects the conservatorship to be fully terminated at the next hearing on November 12.)

Rosengart told the crowd that the files being turned over are supposed to consist of attorney-client communication between Spears’ father and his lawyers.

“One question we’re going to be asking in regards to Mr. Spears’ representatives, not just lawyers, is what did they know and when did they know it, in regards to eavesdropping and putting a listening device under Britney Spears’ bed in her bedroom,” Rosengart said. “Something is very, very troubling. That is something that is for law enforcement, and not myself, to make the ultimate conclusion on, but my firm will be looking into it.”

He continued, “The attorney-client communications between Mr. Spears, on the one hand, and his lawyers on the other, I believe, will reveal corruption…and that’s something that we look forward to vigorously looking into.”

Rosengart was also asked by a reporter about the rest of Spears’ family, but declined to comment. In June, when the singer testified, she told Judge Penny that she wants to “sue” her entire family and believes her conservators should be in jail.

“There is definitely something to celebrate, but it’s also a solemn day,” Rosengart said on Wednesday. “Britney Spears has been faced with a decade-long nightmare, a Kafkaesque nightmare, orchestrated by her father and others.”

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R. Kelly’s Lawyers Attacked His Accusers. It Backfired. – The New York Times

Legal experts said Mr. Kelly’s defense team focused on undermining the credibility of his many accusers — a strategy doomed to fail as attitudes about sexual abuse shift.

Midway through the singer R. Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn, during a sidebar conversation out of the jury’s earshot, one of Mr. Kelly’s lawyers brought up an accuser’s suggestive dancing.

The lawyer, Deveraux L. Cannick, had returned more than once to the topic of twerking, as he questioned a woman who first encountered Mr. Kelly at a music festival when she was 17 and said he abused her for years, and Judge Ann M. Donnelly had heard enough.

“You need to get yourself here into 2021 with the rest of us, OK?” Judge Donnelly said, criticizing the implication that dancing at a concert was somehow an invitation to sexual abuse.

Mr. Kelly’s case, which ended with his conviction this week on racketeering and sex-trafficking charges, was widely seen as a critical moment in the #MeToo movement, which seeks to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct. But throughout his trial, Mr. Kelly’s legal team appeared to employ tactics that recalled an earlier era, attempting to paint the bevy of accusers who testified as jealous, fame-seeking, promiscuous liars.

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The singer was convicted of federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges for a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex. Once one of the biggest names in popular music, he could face decades in prison.Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock

Legal experts said the verdict, reached after brief deliberations despite weeks of complex testimony, underscored a profound and recent shift in the way juries approached cases involving accusations of sexual abuse. And while chipping away at an accuser’s credibility has long been a key part of defense strategy, they said, attacking women who testify against their accusers risks losing jurors entirely.

“The defense’s arguments may have had some impact decades ago, but in Brooklyn in 2021 you can’t just say ‘she was asking for it’ and get an acquittal,” said Moira Penza, a former prosecutor who led the team that secured the racketeering conviction of the Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere.

Ms. Penza called many of the defense’s cross-examinations of accusers “offensive” and said the defense had failed on a fundamental level.

“Rule No. 1 of being a trial lawyer is to have a clear narrative and consistent themes that you elicit throughout your case,” said Ms. Penza, who is now a partner at the firm Wilkinson Stekloff. “Here, the defense does not seem to have had a clear strategy of how to respond to the prosecution’s evidence.”

To be sure, Mr. Kelly’s defense team was facing an uphill battle. The singer, once one of the best-known recording artists in the world, had been trailed by sexual abuse accusations for decades. At trial, nine women and two men shared hours of graphic testimony about the physical, sexual and emotional abuse he inflicted that could not easily be explained away.

Jurors saw hours of Mr. Kelly’s homemade pornography, much of it plainly abusive. In one video, a woman who testified was forced to stand naked and berate herself; in another, she was forced to record herself sloshing around in her own urine and defecating on herself while Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” played in the background.

Deliberations lasted just nine hours.

“When jurors hear weeks of complicated evidence and they return a verdict of conviction with dispatch, they’re sending a message,” said Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

Given the mountain of evidence against the singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, the case would have been difficult to win. But legal experts said Mr. Kelly’s defense team — a group of four defense lawyers that was partially assembled in the months before the trial after Mr. Kelly parted ways with his longtime counsel — made clear missteps.

Nicole Blank Becker, a Michigan lawyer who had never argued in a federal courtroom before, fumbled repeatedly as she delivered a lengthy opening argument in Mr. Kelly’s case.

And while Mr. Cannick conducted aggressive cross-examinations of many of Mr. Kelly’s accusers, it was not clear how effective his questions were.

“I felt like his questions were a reach,” a woman who testified under the pseudonym Angela said of her cross-examination, in an interview the day after the verdict. “You can’t defend when you have no defense.”

Mr. Cannick also delivered a bombastic closing argument that seemed at one point to compare Mr. Kelly — whom jurors had just heard described as a violent sexual predator — to Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Cannick told reporters after the verdict that he discusses Dr. King in all of his summations. But doing so in Mr. Kelly’s case was met with ridicule on social media and from legal experts.

“The defense should be ashamed of even mentioning the name of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in any discussion of R. Kelly, a dangerous sexual predator who has harmed so many women and underage girls,” the lawyer Gloria Allred, who represented five of Mr. Kelly’s accusers, four of whom testified, said at a news conference after the verdict.

Ms. Blank Becker declined to comment on the defense team’s strategy until after sentencing. Mr. Cannick did not reply to repeated requests for comment.

“In this trial there was not the historical baggage of false accusations by white women against Black men,” Mr. Butler said. “It might have been more effective in a case with different racial dynamics or at a time before #MeToo, but obviously it didn’t work this time.”

From start to finish, legal experts said, the defense focused on an ill-conceived plan to discredit Mr. Kelly’s accusers instead of attacking the underpinnings of the unusual racketeering charge he faced.

The charge is often associated with organized crime, but it can be applied to any ongoing coordinated illegal scheme or criminal enterprise to carry out a common purpose. In this case, prosecutors said Mr. Kelly and his inner circle worked for decades, in multiple states, to recruit girls and young women for sexual exploitation.

Michael Leonard, a Chicago trial lawyer who represented Mr. Kelly until this summer, said he had been preparing a different defense strategy before he and another lawyer, Steve Greenberg, left the case.

“The best way to attack the government’s case was to not treat it as a run-of-the-mill sex case, arguing whether or not something happened,” said Mr. Leonard. “The government’s Achilles’ heel was the concept that Mr. Kelly — as the leader of a band — constituted a criminal enterprise. That was completely novel, something that’s never been tried before, and we thought that could be exploited.”

Mr. Greenberg, who tweeted, “Sometimes you can’t save someone from themselves, no matter how hard you try,” shortly before leaving the legal team, said that one of the many disagreements he had with the lawyers who remained involved was over what he described as a problematic woman-blaming strategy.

“Their strategy was to slut-shame, which had nothing to do with anything,” he said. “And it gained you nothing. Saying bad things about people has nothing to do with having an enterprise.”

Mr. Butler, who specializes in the intersection of race and law, said Mr. Kelly’s team might have hoped its strategy would have worked in a case where the accusers were mostly Black women. He said the strategy might have been more likely to sway some jurors in the years before the #MeToo movement, which, he pointed out, was started by a Black woman.

He also noted that two of Mr. Kelly’s accusers were men, which may have helped convince jurors to convict.

“It’s unfortunate that we still have to think about men corroborating women’s claims of victimization,” he said. “But in this case men were also victims.”

With the burden of proof on the prosecution, the defense called only a handful of witnesses. But those who did take the stand for the defense may have done more harm than good, experts said.

One witness, a former Chicago police officer, admitted on the stand that he had pleaded guilty to forgery. Another, Mr. Kelly’s former accountant, acknowledged that he had created a diagram depicting Mr. Kelly’s organization as an octopus with the singer controlling its various tentacles — valuable evidence for the prosecution’s argument that Mr. Kelly ran an illegal enterprise.

Moe Fodeman, who prosecuted many racketeering cases as a federal prosecutor and is now a white-collar defense lawyer, said the defense’s decision to call any witnesses at all was a risky one.

“Having just a few defense witnesses that respond to some aspect of the prosecution’s case may risk highlighting the lack of response to the rest of it,” Mr. Fodeman said. He added that jurors are often struck by “the stark contrast to the sheer number of witnesses the government called.”

In Mr. Kelly’s case, five people testified for the defense. The prosecution called 45. Mr. Kelly, who also faces charges in Illinois and Minnesota, will be sentenced in May.

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The Theranos Trial: Elizabeth Holmes’s Defense Works to Undermine Central Prosecution Witness – The Wall Street Journal

Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff appeared as a prosecution witness on Tuesday.

Photo: Vicki Behringer

SAN JOSE, Calif.—A lawyer for Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes tried to undercut a key prosecution witness’s testimony Tuesday, as new clues emerged about her defense strategy of shifting blame to her former top deputy and ex-boyfriend.

Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff testified Tuesday in Ms. Holmes’s criminal-fraud trial that every time the company fielded a physician complaint, every time quality control failed and every time test results fell out of appropriate ranges, “it raised serious and grave concerns…

SAN JOSE, Calif.—A lawyer for Theranos Inc. founder

Elizabeth Holmes
tried to undercut a key prosecution witness’s testimony Tuesday, as new clues emerged about her defense strategy of shifting blame to her former top deputy and ex-boyfriend.

Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff testified Tuesday in Ms. Holmes’s criminal-fraud trial that every time the company fielded a physician complaint, every time quality control failed and every time test results fell out of appropriate ranges, “it raised serious and grave concerns for me about the accuracy of the testing process.” The concerns eventually led him to quit, he said.

Lance Wade,
an attorney for Ms. Holmes, took an aggressive stance during his cross-examination, pushing Dr. Rosendorff to say that he was coached by prosecutors on the answers he gave.

His voice rising, Mr. Wade asked whether during several preparation sessions with prosecutors and federal agents, Dr. Rosendorff went through the questions they intended to ask and the answers he planned to give.

“I was always instructed to be truthful and tell the truth,” Dr. Rosendorff responded.

Asked a second time, he responded, “I was merely instructed to tell the truth.”

Mr. Wade’s stance with Dr. Rosendorff differed substantially from his conciliatory tone during cross-examination of prosecution witnesses in previous weeks of Ms. Holmes’s trial. The 37-year-old Stanford University dropout is accused of 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for representations she made to investors and patients about Theranos’s finger-prick blood-testing technology.

So far, Ms. Holmes’s defense against allegations that she overstated Theranos’s capabilities has been limited to cross-examination and Mr. Wade’s opening remarks to jurors. Court filings partially unsealed Monday night offered hints about what her defense might look like when it is her turn to call witnesses to the stand—and potentially take the stand herself.

As the long-awaited trial of Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes gets underway, WSJ looks back at the scandal’s biggest milestones and speaks with legal reporter Sara Randazzo about what we can expect to see in the fraud trial. Photo Illustration: Adele Morgan/WSJ

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

The filings, unsealed in response to a motion by The Wall Street Journal’s publisher, Dow Jones & Co., show how she might position herself against Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her former boyfriend and No. 2 at the company, who is accused of the same crimes. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Ms. Holmes’s lawyers have said in filings that she could argue that she and Mr. Balwani had an emotionally and physically abusive relationship that left her under his control during the period in which the government alleges the two blood-testing executives committed a massive fraud. Mr. Balwani’s lawyer has said that Mr. Balwani “unequivocally denies that he engaged in any abuse at any time.”

Ms. Holmes’s lawyers explained in a newly unsealed filing that “she deferred to and relied on what she perceived to be Mr. Balwani’s business acumen. She relied on Mr. Balwani to provide her with accurate information about the state of the company’s operations.”

Without conceding that any statement she made was actually false, her lawyers said that she can still argue that, “If Ms. Holmes in good faith believed that what she was saying was true because she relied on and deferred to Mr. Balwani, she did not commit wire fraud.”

Ms. Holmes met Mr. Balwani during a language-immersion trip to China when she was 18-years-old and he was 37, Ms. Holmes’s lawyer told jurors earlier in the trial. In his early years with the company, the executive used his personal wealth, gained from his work at an earlier tech startup, to help prop up Theranos.

Weeks of prosecution witnesses remain before Ms. Holmes’s lawyers can present their defense in full.

Dr. Rosendorff is the eighth witness to take the stand so far.

The former lab director testified that his concerns culminated in late 2014, when he decided to quit, days after Mr. Balwani discussed firing him in an email to Ms. Holmes that was shown to jurors Tuesday.

In the weeks leading up to his resignation, Dr. Rosendorff exchanged a series of heated emails with Mr. Balwani and others, including Ms. Holmes’s brother, Christian Holmes, a senior Theranos manager who fielded customer complaints.

When told by Mr. Holmes how to respond to a doctor who complained about cholesterol results, Dr. Rosendorff responded that he wouldn’t do it. “If you’re asking me to defend these values then the answer is no,” he said in a Nov. 14, 2014, email.

On Dr. Rosendorff’s last day of work, he testified, he met with Mr. Balwani and when the Theranos executive offered his hand Dr. Rosendorff declined to shake it.

Dr. Rosendorff testified that after he left Theranos, he spoke to two lawyers and to then-Wall Street Journal reporter

John Carreyrou
about his experience at the company. “I felt obligated from a moral and ethical perspective to alert the public,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on questions about Theranos’s technology in 2015, including that the company ran few tests on its proprietary finger-stick machines and instead used commercial blood analyzers that it sometimes modified.

Dr. Rosendorff said he spoke off the record to Mr. Carreyrou, and his name never appeared as a source in the Journal’s reporting. Mr. Carreyrou and a spokesman for the Journal declined to comment.

During cross-examination, Mr. Wade questioned Dr. Rosendorff about his legal obligations as lab director and whether he ever offered lab tests for patient use that weren’t accurate.

Dr. Rosendorff responded that no, whenever he was alerted that a test was inaccurate or unreliable, he ordered the lab to cease doing those tests.

Write to Sara Randazzo at

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