The much-anticipated moment has arrived.
After nearly four months in court, the jury in the trial of the former Silicon Valley superstar Elizabeth Holmes began deliberations on Monday. The group of eight men and four women will decide whether Holmes — whose blood-testing company, Theranos, collapsed in scandal — should be convicted of 11 counts of fraud-related charges.
We don’t know how long the jurors will take to arrive at their conclusion. The soonest the verdict could come is today: They are scheduled to reconvene in a federal courthouse in San Jose at 8:30 a.m. There are no court proceedings on Wednesday, but the jury would resume on Thursday if needed.
The jurors must reach a unanimous decision, and failing to do so could result in a mistrial. Some legal experts have said that longer deliberations suggest things may go Holmes’s way.
If convicted, Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison. The sentencing would come at a later date.
Since beginning in late summer, Holmes’s trial has dragged on for weeks longer than originally expected. (You can catch up with my colleagues’ stories on opening statements, James Mattis’s testimony, the prosecution’s arguments, the defense’s case and closing arguments.)
Arguably the most stunning moment of the trial came toward the end, when Holmes took the stand in her own defense. Over several days, she presented her version of Theranos’s downfall, saying that she believed the company’s technology worked and that she had been controlled by Ramesh Balwani, her former business partner.
Balwani, who was also her longtime boyfriend and faces a separate trial next year, had controlled every aspect of her life, Holmes testified. She also accused him of sexual abuse, which he has denied.
On the stand, Holmes cried and her voice broke. She said she had begun to rely on Balwani, who is nearly 20 years older than her, after she had been raped while a student at Stanford.
Though it was difficult to read jurors’ expressions through their masks, the testimony awoke a sleepy courtroom, my colleagues told me.
“The prosecution’s case has been all about presenting cold, hard facts,” said Erin Griffith, who has been covering the trial. “Holmes’s testimony introduced emotion and narrative. It is certainly more memorable to jurors than the details of a profit and loss statement or an immunoassay validation report.”
A conviction for Holmes could send shock waves through Silicon Valley and scare executives into treading more lightly when pitching to investors. But it’s possible an acquittal could have the same result.
Take Ellen Pao, another tech executive. In 2015, Pao lost her discrimination lawsuit against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, but her case still brought longstanding gender issues to the surface and forced firms to start making changes, Griffith pointed out.
“The Holmes trial could have a similar effect, regardless of its outcome,” Griffith told me. “Or, start-ups could keep raising more and more money at higher valuations with less progress to show, as they have for the last year and a half.”
Only time will tell.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s travel tip comes from Kevin Werner:
“I recently traveled from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to Los Angeles by bicycle, a wonderful way to immerse in the majesty of California’s deservedly legendary coast. An overnight stay in Ragged Point, at the southern tip of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and just a bit north of Hearst Castle and San Simeon, was a highlight of my journey. Ragged Point is remote, beautiful and sublimely peaceful, boasting hiking trails and unparalleled scenery.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What we’re reading
And before you go, some good news
The love story of Will Jardell and James Wallington begins in the most Los Angeles of ways — during a television audition.
Jardell, an aspiring model, was vying to compete on the reality show “America’s Next Top Model” when he passed Wallington, a casting assistant, in a hallway at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.
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