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Elizabeth Holmes’ texts should be left out of Theranos trial: lawyers

Lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes are reportedly working to keep the disgraced Theranos founder’s texts and emails out of the courtroom.

With a July court date looming for Holmes’ upcoming fraud trial, the Silicon Valley wunderkind’s defense team wants to keep jurors from seeing damning messages she sent while defrauding investors out of millions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Among the emails prosecutors want to use is one from Theranos’ lab director, who wrote to Holmes to express concerns in the company’s technology, which eventually was exposed as a sham.

“I am feeling pressured to vouch for results that I cannot be confident in,” he said.

The lab director resigned a month later after Theranos president and Holmes’ former boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani said he should be fired, according to the report. He was replaced by Balwani’s dermatologist, who only visited the lab occasionally and wasn’t certified in laboratory science.

The texts paint a picture of an executive eager to evade scrutiny, including detailing a plan to create a cement pathway for auditors to enter the building that avoided any areas Theranos didn’t want them looking.

Prosecutors also want to include texts from Holmes to Balwani saying discussing Theranos’s problems and saying she was praying for good results from regulator inspections.

“Fundamentally we need to stop fighting fires by not creating them,” Holmes wrote.

Holmes’ lawyers are challenging a motion by prosecutors who say she should not be able to point to startup founders frequently exaggerating about their products in order to secure funding as a defense for her actions.

The lawyers previously asked to exclude evidence from the Food and Drug Administration’s inspections of Theranos and several news articles about the company, including a series of stories in The Wall Street Journal that helped expose its questionable practices.

Elizabeth Holmes with Alibaba's Jack Ma in 2015.
Elizabeth Holmes with Alibaba’s Jack Ma in 2015.
Getty Images

The request to have the materials kept from jurors comes just weeks after Holmes lawyers argued to stop prosecutors from detailing the luxe lifestyle she lived while leading the blood-testing startup.

Her team wrote in a court filing that the wealth she accumulated as Theranos’ CEO has “no bearing” on the charges that she defrauded investors and patients who used the company’s allegedly bogus services.

“That Ms. Holmes enjoyed a certain lifestyle — one that is commensurate with the lifestyle of many other CEOs — says nothing about whether Ms. Holmes committed fraud to obtain or maintain that lifestyle,” the 36-year-old’s lawyers wrote.

Holmes and Balwani have both pleaded not guilty to charges that they peddled bogus blood tests with devices that they promoted as revolutionary but knew were unreliable and inaccurate. Balwani will reportedly be tried separately from Holmes after her trial begins this summer.


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