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Concern Raised In Elizabeth Holmes Trial Over Possible Unsealing Of Juror Questionnaires

Elizabeth Holmes' attorney Kevin Downey expressed worry that the unsealing of such personal juror information could lead to an unfair trial.

Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes’ defense attorney is criticizing the possibility that a questionnaire containing personal information about jurors in the trial could be released.

Several media companies, including NBCUniversal, have asked U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila to release jury 28-page questionnaires that contain jurors’ personal information, beliefs and habits pertaining to media, religion, health care and investments, CNBC reportsThe questions were intended to determine if there were any biases during the jury selection process. At the time when they were filled out, Davila told the jurors were told that their answers would be confidential. Other personal information, such as jurors’ names, level of education, profession and criminal records are also on the documents.

Davila will decide sometime over the next five weeks whether or not the questionnaires will be unsealed.

Holmes’ attorney Kevin Downey told Davila on Wednesday that “some of the [juror] comments raise concerns,” according to CNBC.

He expressed worry that the release could create a possibly unfair trial for Holmes. 

“We need to make sure we don’t have jurors who are reporting a reaction to that that’s affecting their ability to serve,” Downey said.

The trial, held in Silicon Valley, has been ongoing since early September.

The jurors are currently listening to testimony as federal prosecutors try to convince them that Holmes is guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Holmes founded the blood-testing start-up company Theranos in 2003 and claimed to have created technology that can perform a myriad of tests on a patient's blood using just a few drops.

While her company was, at its height, valued at around $9 billion, Theranos came crashing down when Holmes was indicted in 2018 on fraud charges. Prosecutors allege she defrauded numerous investors, as well as doctors and patients, with her false claims about the technology her company had supposedly developed.

After Downey’s comments about the questionnaires on Wednesday, Wade Miquelon, former chief financial officer of Walgreen Co. testified for the prosecution, claiming that Walgreens gave $140 million to the alleged scheme, the Washington Post reports.

NBC News Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos told CNBC that while the unsealing of such questionnaires is not unheard of, this is a particularly high profile trial.

“I think the jurors will err on the side of being concerned about what’s made public. This is a very high profile trial and they know that they’re being scrutinized,” he said.

Cevallos added, "When they answered the questionnaires they probably didn’t have an idea that it would be on blast to the rest of the world. That could make them feel uncomfortable.”

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