Judge Edward Davila, in an order filed May 22, found some lifestyle evidence was admissible because it allowed prosecutors to make a case about Holmes’ motive, knowledge and intent. Davila, however, barred prosecutors from trotting out details that could potentially prejudice the jury against her.
“The government may introduce evidence that Holmes enjoyed a lifestyle as Theranos CEO that is comparable to those of other tech company CEOs. This includes salary, travel, celebrity, and other perks and benefits commensurate with the position. However, references to specific purchases or details reflecting branding of clothing, hotels, or other personal items is not relevant, and the prejudicial effect of that evidence outweighs any probative value,” Davila said.
The 100-page order answered roughly 20 motions involving evidence allowed in the trial. The order, for example, also found that patients and doctors could provide anecdotal stories of inaccurate test results. However, they’ll have to limit their stories to the inaccurate results and money wasted on the test, with no discussion of emotional, financial or physical harm.
Prosecutors and Holmes’ defense team have also traded accusations over the absence of information in Theranos’ Laboratory Information System (LIS) database. Davila decided in the May 22 order to exclude the prosecution from presenting evidence suggesting that that LIS was nefariously destroyed — unless it can come back in the future with evidence that directly connects the loss of LIS data to Holmes. On the flip side, the jury could still end up hearing about the matter if the defense faults the government over the loss of the LIS, which would open up a question of fact.
Davila also declined to preclude Holmes’ defense from making the argument that the government’s case is anecdotal, with a lack of statistical or scientific evidence.
“Holmes has a right to put on a defense of her choosing, including an argument that the government has failed to meet its burden of proof,” Davila said.
Trial jury selection — delayed multiple times because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then Holmes’ pregnancy — is slated to start Aug. 31.
Holmes and Theranos were once the next big thing in Silicon Valley, with Holmes claiming that her company would revolutionize blood testing with technology that could analyze tiny amounts of blood.
Investigative reporting, though, soon dismantled the claims Holmes was making about Theranos’ technology, raising questions about whether she and others had misled investors. The downward spiral culminated in the 2018 shutdown of the company, with the SEC criminally charging Holmes and former Theranos president Sunny Balwani over what it described as a “massive fraud.”
Balwani’s trial is expected to follow the Holmes trial.