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SBF Needs More Adderall: Is Withholding Meds for FTX Founder’s ADHD Grounds for Appeal?

Published October 18, 2023 2:21 PM
Stephen Samuels
Published October 18, 2023 2:21 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Sam Bankman-Fried’s attorneys argue he’s not getting his prescribed dose of Adderall.
  • The defense claims his current dose has been wearing off by the time his daily court appearances begin.
  • Legal experts argue it’s unlikely to be solid ground for an appeal.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s legal team filed an intriguing motion ahead of his third week on trial for a litany of charges following the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Bankman-Fried needs a stronger, longer-lasting dose of Adderall, the prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , in order to remain alert during trial in the New York District Court.

Staying Alert

His lawyers claim that the embattled former FTX CEO has struggled to maintain focus during the trial over the past two weeks because he has not been given his prescribed dose of Adderall during trial hours.

The defense noted its concern that Bankman-Fried would not be able to “concentrate at the level he ordinarily would” and would be unable to “meaningfully participate in the presentation of the defense case”.

The proposed solution was to permit Bankman-Fried access to a 12-hour, extended-release 20mg dose of Adderall before being transported to the courthouse on trial days. 

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan subsequently denied  the motion for a postponement of the trial following Monday’s court session. Kaplan said that despite the fact that the requested dose of Adderall would not be available until Thursday, 19 Oct, he had not observed any meaningful impact on Bankman-Fried’s mental state or actions in court.

judge motion

The judge was also opposed to “lawyers giving drugs to people on trial.” 

A Losing Argument

CCN reached out to Dean Steinbeck, managing director at web3 advisory firm Horizen Labs Ventures, to glean some legal expertise regarding the defense’s motion and prior instances of requests for prescribed medications for persons on trial.

Steinbeck, who is a United States corporate lawyer, said that a criminal defendant is generally allowed to receive prescribed medication. However, when certain medication is unavailable, a judge will generally confer with medical professionals for alternative prescriptions.

“In this case, there is a nationwide shortage of slow-release Adderall. It will be up to the defense to provide a new prescription for alternative medication or dosage,” the lawyer said.

Steinbeck added that provided the judge takes reasonable steps to allow the defendant’s newly prescribed medication, there is no issue for appeal. 

“Although SBF’s legal team will undoubtedly use this issue to claim that SBF was not capable of providing a full defense, it’s a losing argument because the judge here is acting reasonably.”

Bankman-Fried is yet to take the stand in the high-profile trial. He stands accused of seven counts of conspiracy and fraud relating to the collapse of the exchange.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had initially announced  an eight-count indictment with fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance offenses in December 2022. This included two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, two of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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