Jury in the Elizabeth Holmes trial raised concerns about the publication of questionnaires containing personal information

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Health and Science

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life science company Theranos, arrives on the first day of her fraud trial in federal court in San Jose, California. September 8, 2021.

Nick Otto | AFP | Getty Images

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – A defender for embattled Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes raised the issue of fair trial given the possibility of disclosing the jury’s personal information, beliefs and habits.

Eleven media companies, including NBCUniversal, asked the jury to release the jury’s questionnaires. U.S. District Court judge Edward Davila initially informed the jury that their questionnaire, designed to identify potential bias in selecting a jury, would remain confidential.

Davila met with each juror individually to discuss the publication of their personal information.

Kevin Downey, a Holmes attorney, told the judge on Wednesday they were concerned that unsealing the jury’s questionnaires at this point could affect Holmes’ right to a fair trial. “Some of the [juror] Comments raise concerns, “Downey said.

“We need to make sure we don’t have a jury reporting a response that affects their ability to serve,” Downey told the judge. Davila said he would schedule hearings over the next five weeks to decide whether the questionnaires would be unsealed.

The judges completed an extensive 28-page questionnaire asking about their media exposure, views on healthcare, venture capital investments, religious beliefs and other topics.

The form also includes the jury’s name, education level, occupation, criminal record, and other personal information.

“I think the jury will be concerned about the releases, this is a very high profile trial and they know it will be reviewed,” said Danny Cevallos, legal analyst for NBC News.

Cevallos said it was not customary to unseal jury questionnaires during the trial, but “the media is now interested in finding out what is going on with this jury.”

The jury, which decides on Holmes’ fate, consists of eight men and four women and three deputies. Last week, a juror was dismissed after she announced she was a Buddhist and had concerns about voting for a jail term.

“When they answered the questionnaires, they probably had no idea that the rest of the world would be there,” said Cevallos. “It could make you feel uncomfortable.”

Holmes, a Stanford dropout who founded Theranos at the age of 19, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $ 3 million fine if convicted. Prosecutors allege she was involved in a multi-million dollar fraud that misled investors and patients about her company’s blood testing technology. Holmes has pleaded not guilty.

At its peak, Theranos was valued at $ 9 million. Holmes once attracted world leaders in business and politics who invested in Theranos and served on the board. Many of them are witnesses in their criminal trial.

Former Walgreens CFO Wade Miquelon took the stand after the morning’s delay. Miquelon told jury that Walgreens invested $ 140 million in Theranos and installed the Edison blood testing machines in 40 stores in Arizona and California.

Miquelon testified that he was told that the in-store testing centers were “better, faster, cheaper.” The manager, who worked at Walgreens from 2008 to 2014, said his understanding is that “customers’ blood is tested on the Edison device”.

Walgreens terminated its partnership with Theranos in 2016 and eventually sued the Silicon Valley startup for breach of contract.

Miquelon was the second retail manager the jury heard from at the trial. Former Safeway CEO Steve Burd testified for two days that he was initially enchanted by Holmes but became frustrated with the nearly $ 400 million partnership after repeated delays in launch.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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