Elizabeth Holmes appears in court, judge orders FDA to produce documents

More legal wrangling in the federal trial of Elisabeth Holmes. She’s the founder of tech firm Theranos, who’s charged with multiple counts of fraud against investors. Holmes left the Federal Courthouse in San Jose saying nothing. She spent most of Wednesday morning watching her lawyers haggle over evidence in her case.

“This is ordinary in this type of complex, white-collar prosecution,” said Christian Picone, a federal criminal law expert.

Holmes, and co-defendant Ramesh Balwani are charged with nine counts of wire fraud, and two counts to commit fraud related to their work for Theranos. The Silicon Valley tech firm promised a new way to conduct blood screening tests. But federal prosecutors say the pair bilked investors out of millions of dollars, and hid evidence the technology doesn’t work.

In court Wednesday, defense lawyers argued evidence in the case that’s been requested from the FDA, still hasn’t been delivered. Prosecutors countered they too are having trouble getting roughly 300,000 pages of material relevant to the case. The presiding judge is giving the agency 75-days to produce the documents, and is also ordering prosecutors to provide defense lawyers with copies of investigator’s notes.

“This allows the court to balance the interests of the FDA and the interests of the defense team. It’s going to make things more efficient at trial. Because those documents are eventually to have to be produced to the defense. By getting them early they’re able to be more prepared able to proceed quicker. And in essence you’d have a faster trial,” said Picone.

If the FDA fights the judge’s order, or doesn’t provide all the materials, the ensuing legal fight could delay the start of this trial, currently slated for August 2020.