Jurors completed a sixth day of deliberations without a verdict in the criminal fraud case against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on Wednesday, and a docket entry confirming that a sealed 23-minute proceeding took place on Tuesday remained a mystery.
Deliberations are scheduled to resume on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, at 8:30 A.M. Pacific Time.
Federal District Court Judge Edward Davila didn’t reveal why the matter was shielded from public view. Both the government’s lawyers and Holmes’ defense lawyers were present for the proceeding.
Legal experts say that without additional information, they can’t predict the reason for the secrecy. And though unusual, certain post-trial matters — such as personal juror matters, deliberation progress updates, and scheduling conflicts — could justify private discussions.
“It is certainly unusual for the court to seal the proceeding,” George Demos, a former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement attorney and current University of California Davis adjunct law professor, told Yahoo Finance. “This may relate to juror issues that the court believes if disclosed could impair the integrity of the deliberations."
Holmes is defending 11 counts of fraud and conspiracy for allegedly misrepresenting the viability of Theranos’ blood-testing technology to investors and paying customers. She was indicted, along with Theranos COO and her onetime boyfriend, Sunny Balwani, in 2018 after the Silicon Valley startup imploded under regulatory and legal scrutiny. Balwani also faces criminal fraud and conspiracy charges and is scheduled to stand trial next year.
White collar criminal defense attorney Elisha Kobre explained that absent extraordinary circumstances, substantive case issues would generally be dealt with in open court. For that reason, he added, it’s unlikely that the proceeding concerned such matters.
“While we cannot know for sure, it may be that one or more of the jurors will need to take a break at some point from deliberations to deal with a personal matter,” Kobre said, noting that a medical issue, for example, could warrant a close session. “It may also be that one of the jurors is feeling ill or even have symptoms of COVID, though that is less likely given that deliberations have apparently continued today.”
Michael Weinstein, a white collar criminal defense attorney for Cole Schotz, told Yahoo Finance that any challenge to the court’s decision may not outpace the jury’s verdict — even if an emergent hearing were granted.
At the close of deliberations on Wednesday, jurors had spent approximately 48 hours considering Holmes’ fate.
Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.