It Could Be Years Before Holmes Goes to Prison

Appeals process likely to be long, complicated
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2022 12:33 PM CST
Mixed Verdict Could Make Holmes Appeal Tricky
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes leaves federal court in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.   (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

(Newser) – After a long, complicated trial for Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, the jury delivered a complicated verdict, which could make the appeals process tricky for her lawyers. The jury found Holmes guilty on four fraud counts, not guilty on four others, and they were deadlocked on three more. Lawyers tell the Wall Street Journal that the mixed verdict could hurt Holmes' chances on appeal because it will make it harder for her defense team to argue that the jurors were biased. "The split nature shows nothing the judge did was prejudicial and would have affected the outcome of the trial," says New York-based defense lawyer Harry Sandick, who wasn't involved in the case.

Los Angeles attorney Matthew Barhona, however, disagrees. "Mixed jury verdicts are definitely the kind of thing you want to bring to an appellate court," the appeals specialist told the AP after Holmes was convicted last week. "You want to use that mixed result to say the jury didn’t understand the information presented to them, and there’s an argument to be made that the evidence was insufficient for a conviction." Kevin Downey, one of Holmes' attorneys, says the defense team is waiting to see what happens at a hearing this week on the three deadlocked charges before it commits to an appeals timeline, the Journal reports. Lawyers say that since the charges Holmes was convicted on carry long potential sentences, a new trial on the three charges is probably unlikely.

Experts say that if the convictions stand, Holmes is likely to spend at least a few years in prison—but it might not happen for a long time. With no prior convictions, the 37-year-old, who had a baby in July, has a strong chance of being allowed to remain free on bail during an appeals process that could drag on for years, the Guardian reports. She could face a maximum sentence of 80 years—20 for each conviction—but experts say a total of 10 years is more likely. No sentencing date has been set and US District Judge Edward Davila has signaled that he plans to wait until after the trial of former Holmes deputy Sunny Balwani, which is likely to be pushed back until March due to COVID restrictions. (Read more Elizabeth Holmes stories.)

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