Judge in Theranos trial dismisses unvaccinated people in jury pool

Judge in Theranos trial dismisses unvaccinated people in jury pool
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A California judge on Thursday dismissed nine people in a jury pool because they were not vaccinated against COVID-19, Reuters reported.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who is presiding over former Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’s fraud trial, said his reasoning for dismissing the unvaccinated people was because he wanted to ensure the health of jurors and their families.

The wire service noted that both the defense and prosecution supported Davila’s decision.

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The subject of COVID-19 vaccination came up during a final juror questionnaire, which asked people if they had been vaccinated against COVID-19 or were scheduled to be vaccinated.

A jury selection was ultimately reached with seven men and five women, in addition to five alternates, CNBC reported.

Experts told Reuters that the move to dismiss unvaccinated people from a jury pool could alter the makeup and representation of the jury pool, which could in turn affect the fairness of the trial. Vaccination status has often fallen along partisan lines.

Requests for comment from an attorney representing Holmes and an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case were not immediately returned to The Hill.

Theranos, a now-defunct blood testing startup, raised a significant amounts of money from investors in its heyday, but a 2015 investigation by The Wall Street Journal showed that there were limitations to the company’s technology, which ultimately affected the viability of the business later on.

Holmes is now facing multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. Her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos president, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, will have his own fraud trial. 

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Court filings indicate that Holmes will likely testify during her trial and they also indicate a possible defense strategy that alleges that Holmes suffered abuse against Balwani, affecting her ability to make decisions.

Balwani’s lawyers, Jeffrey Coopersmith, wrote in a filing that "Ms. Holmes' allegations are deeply offensive to Mr. Balwani, devastating personally to him,” according to NPR.

Updated Sept. 3, 7:11 p.m.