Ah, yes, the defence

Blah blah, blah blah, charged with a dozen felony fraud counts over her defunct Palo Alto blah blah startup, plans to introduce evidence of a mental condition that affects the issue of guilt, a blockbuster judge’s order has revealed.

Federal prosecutors will be allowed to subject the Stanford University dropout to 14 hours of psychiatric testing and examination over two days, Judge Edward Davila said in a ruling this week.

Blah in December notified prosecutors of her intent “to introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on … the issue of guilt,” according to Davila’s order, released late Wednesday.

She plans to call as an expert witness California State University at Fullerton psychology professor Mindy Mechanic, whose university bio says she studies “the psychosocial consequences of trauma, victimization, and interpersonal violence.”

Mechanic “regularly serves as an expert witness in complex legal cases involving battered women charged with crimes and in other legal cases involving childhood or adult trauma, victimization and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” according to her bio.

Billy Jones showed me his wee wee in second grade therefore I bilked investors because PTSD.

Any advances on that?

29 thoughts on “Ah, yes, the defence”

  1. Why is it that she seemed an obvious fraud seen from 5,000 miles away, yet fooled people on the spot?

    Or were many of them not fooled, but hoped to get rich on the back of the “greater fool” manoeuvre?

  2. @dearieme

    She represented something that people wanted to believe in – a successful female entrepreneur. She followed a playbook – mimicking Steve Jobs’ dress, learned to pitch her voice differently, hired top advisers (albeit not ones good at the science – more high status people from other fields). The concepts underlying her business were not impossible, merely improbable given present day technology. She probably started out with some decent ideas, but over time the need to hype and raise money outran the science. (OK the time when it became a fraud was probably pretty early on.)

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40574949/like-theranos-but-it-works-health-startup-genalyte-proves-its-worth

  3. You had a lot of very rich old guys thinking with something other than their brains when dealing with an attractive woman young enough to be their great granddaughter. Reportedly very little of her financing actually came from investors or VC experienced in the medical device industry.

  4. “Billy Jones showed me his wee wee in second grade therefore I bilked investors because PTSD.”

    AKA the pussy pass. A man attempting the same ‘defence’ would be laughed out of court. They wouldn’t even give it listening time. But a woman, she’s an automatic victim because of her sex, so a bit more victimhood on top is only to be expected…………..

  5. Why is it that she seemed an obvious fraud seen from 5,000 miles away, yet fooled people on the spot?

    Also the calibre of her marks – Henry Kissinger (tbf he’s 300 years old now, but…), everybody’s favourite confirmed bachelor and self-proclaimed “mad dog” James Mattis, former US secretary of state George Shultz, former defense secretary Perry, the former CEO of Wells Fargo…

    It’s a Who’s Who of the US establishment class. It can’t just have been Elizabeth Holmes’ personal charms (Mattis is, uh, married to the Corps and Kissinger hasn’t had an erection since the Nixon administration). None of these best-and-brightestests could tell an obvious scam?

  6. @TD

    “Reportedly very little of her financing actually came from investors or VC experienced in the medical device industry…”

    Think this got discussed last time there was a Theranos thread, anyone remember when that was?

  7. Ahh found it. https://www.timworstall.com/2020/07/cool-4/ About half a dozen separate conversations in that thread! But this was the one I was thinking of.

    dcardno
    July 4, 2020 at 6:48 pm
    “The industry has a group-think picture of what a successful tech entrepreneur looks like…”

    Elizabeth Holmes seemed to have little difficulty in obtaining capital.

    MyBurningEars
    July 4, 2020 at 7:15 pm
    @dcardno

    But interesting she’s the exception that proves the rule. Firstly Holmes was doing her bit to emulate “the look” physically (as I understand it this was a conscious decision to enhance tech credibility), plus the backstory (Stanford, engineering, college dropout) was similar to many. Secondly, look at the frankly astonishing family connections that played a role in her getting the money thrown at her. My jaw dropped the first time I read about those details. Almost certainly led to insufficient scrutiny – if she was coming in as a true outsider, I don’t believe she would have got anywhere near as far as she did. As a result I’m not convinced she’s particularly strong evidence that tech investors are rational, calculating return-maximisers with no social/cultural/personal barriers or preconceptions for founders to pass through. If that’s the kind of woman who gets trotted out as an example of women who do get funded, it’s closer to the reverse.

    dcardno
    July 4, 2020 at 8:03 pm
    MBE

    Oh, sure. It may be even better evidence that if you present the right image you have a better shot at funding. It’s also interesting that Theranos didn’t have any ‘traditional’ VCs on board since they got enough money from people who (obviously) weren’t capable of doing good due dilly and so didn’t have to risk rejection from the Sand Hill gang, which would have tarnished the story at least a bit.

    MyBurningEars
    July 4, 2020 at 9:11 pm
    @dcardno

    Well there’s Tim Draper, but even he wasn’t doing it qua proper VC guy and didn’t do the DD. More a family favour sort of thing I think. The top names hoodwinked into it were probably more gullible for being so “big-league”. Looking back at it, I’m surprised people hadn’t worked out the empress’s new clothes just by looking at the corporate stuff, let alone the fact the science was so questionable conceptually. I can understand people not wanting to publish too much for fear of lawsuits but it seems like the kind of thing tech/business/bioscience bloggers could have unravelled quite quickly, back when the blogosphere was a stronger and freer force especially. Or maybe it was an open secret and I didn’t have my ear to the ground for the gossip. (It started unravelling publicly back in 2015 but the clues must have been there a few years before.)

  8. As I recall, many doctors were skeptical of Theranos’s test results and so had them done again by traditional labs and then quit using Theranos. Furthermore, many of Theranos’s tests were actually done by traditional labs but passed off as coming from their devices. Unless it can be shown that a patient was actually harmed, which would assume an unskeptical doctor, then you have to imagine that jurors will be evaluating what to do about suckering some unsympathetic old rich guys and the efforts to hoodwink regulators.

    If she gets nailed on anything it may be the actions to fool the regulators. Will a jury really care if Murdoch, Kissinger, Schulz and some of the Walton Family got stung?

    On the other hand, if a patient was severely harmed then she’s likely to get slammed hard whether she saw too much of little Billy in grade 2 or not.

  9. Medical defences worked for Ernest Saunders, Ken Dodd and Lester Pigott. So why not, she clearly still has enough of other peoples money to give it a go…

  10. TD,

    “Reportedly very little of her financing actually came from investors or VC experienced in the medical device industry.”

    And despite being labelled as “silicon valley”, she didn’t get money from the VC funds there, either. Those guys are fairly nerdy and like to see that your shit works at some basic level before funding.

  11. “Billy Jones showed me his wee wee in second grade therefore I bilked investors because PTSD.”

    My bet is on her arguing she was manipulated/coerced in some way by her business partner / Theranos president and chief operating officer / (undisclosed to investors) boyfriend Ramesh Balwani, for what little my opinion is worth.

    When they met, she was a teen and he was almost twenty years older and married. She was financially dependent on him since he bailed her out with a loan in the early days, then he got made COO and President. As a manager he was a hardnut, allegedly nicknamed “the enforcer” by staff. Pretty sure the prosecution are going to point the finger in his direction for driving much of the unethical behaviour in the company, so if Holmes can argue she was a vulnerable woman in a power-imbalanced relationship, who knows?

    https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a26838289/who-is-ramesh-sunny-balwani/

  12. @bom4

    Like I said on that previous thread, only exception to that was Draper who genuinely is a Silicon Valley VC guy, but he wasn’t investing in that capacity – more a personal favour kinda thing, far as I understand it.

  13. I know someone with the surname ‘Engineer’.

    And, I suppose, why not, if Cooper, Smith, Butcher, et al, ‘work’?

  14. The American Psychological Association has gone off the rails in everything from the official position of aiding trans people, including young ones, along the road towards transitioning (irreversibly replacing needed, functioning body parts with nonfunctioning artificial ones leaving the “now it” sterile & dependent upon artificial hormones for life) to tricking people into believing Climate Change hype.*

    Long ago, my understanding was a core mission of psychologists was to guide people with neurotic behaviors or thoughts that could or would harm the patient or others to change. I guess they decided it was easier for them to change in stead.

    I hope UK is better but am skeptical.

    *In a study receiving praise from the APA, psychologists used false equivalence to convince test Climate Skeptics to drink the Kool-Aid by saying if you believe in the laws of physics which is science, then you must believe in Climate Science (the alarmist views thereof) else you are being mentally inconsistent.

  15. I know someone with the surname ‘Engineer’.

    Indian? There was a famous Indian cricketer from the 1960s/1970s called Farouk Engineer.

  16. It seems a pity the non execs aren’t in the dock too. After all, these are ageing guys who may have got some bad news from standard blood tests and would like a free second opinion. So go down two floors to the lab, take a finger-prick test and watch the results come out. What could be simpler? As board members, they couldn’t be fobbed off with the usual secret sauce BS. But it appears they didn’t. Remarkably incurious, or in on it?

  17. @Rob

    And in the 50s/60s there was Nari Contractor. Those two being the names that “Mechanic” brought immediately to mind!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nari_Contractor

    Mind you there’s a reasonably well-known film producer called Bill Mechanic (Hacksaw Ridge, Coraline) who doesn’t look obviously Indian-heritage to me. Did wonder if it’s a somewhat anglicised Serbo-Croat surname?

  18. …so if Holmes can argue she was a vulnerable woman in a power-imbalanced relationship, who knows?

    Worked for Karla Homolka. No matter how little one thinks of Holmes, she certainly isn’t in that category.

  19. ‘plans to introduce evidence of a mental condition that affects the issue of guilt’

    She ran the company for over a decade. It’s difficult to argue insanity . . . for nearly 15 years.

  20. Steve,

    “Also the calibre of her marks – Henry Kissinger (tbf he’s 300 years old now, but…), everybody’s favourite confirmed bachelor and self-proclaimed “mad dog” James Mattis, former US secretary of state George Shultz, former defense secretary Perry, the former CEO of Wells Fargo…

    It’s a Who’s Who of the US establishment class. It can’t just have been Elizabeth Holmes’ personal charms (Mattis is, uh, married to the Corps and Kissinger hasn’t had an erection since the Nixon administration). None of these best-and-brightestests could tell an obvious scam?”

    Three things:-

    1. Lots of people are looking for the next wunderkind, the next Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs. The rebel who isn’t cut from the normal mould but is going to change the world and in the process multiply their money bigly.
    2. The business media also love these people because they make good copy and they hype the company as huge, even though Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider actually know sod all.
    3. They don’t understand the business or the technology but 1 and 2 carry them into it.

    (see also: Tesla Bros who think Elon Musk is Iron Man)

  21. @GC

    “She ran the company for over a decade. It’s difficult to argue insanity . . . for nearly 15 years.”

    I see Hallowed Be has had the same thought as me. So long as her team can argue Holmes was, herself, under the long-term psychological control of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani when the Bad Things happened, then was she really “running the company”? I mean, that’s where I suspect they want to take the argument.

    Have the horrible gut feeling in ten years’ time she’ll be making a new career for herself as a talk show host.

    @dcardno

    “Worked for Karla Homolka. No matter how little one thinks of Holmes, she certainly isn’t in that category.”

    Though had the wheels not come off so publicly when they did, her little scam could have ended up responsible for rather more than three deaths!

  22. MBE
    Perhaps, but I suspect Theranos was never going to get FDA approval, so the losses would have been financial, not mortal. None-the-less, medical fraudsters deserve a special contempt.

  23. Back when I did criminal defense, the higher-end guys would salivate when they got a paying client with big resources.

    You assert every single defense – you make every motion – you delay and you write long briefs and you argue arcane points and you contest every little fact and you try stuff that you know isn’t going anywhere.

    Because you charge by the hour – a lot – and you can make your mortgage payoff on one good case. Your LA’s and associates are getting $30-$50/hour from you and you’re billing them out at $300+ per hour, and you’re billing yourself out at . . . much more.

    And the client thinks “damn, they’re pitbulls for me!”

    No, they’re pitbulls for hire. And you’re their pot of gold.

  24. I think its more ‘blah blah blah, she’s a sociopath who doesn’t understand guilt so therefore she can’t be guilty and you should let her go’.

  25. The one thing that pisses me off about feminism more than anything else, is that the lady card says “Strong independent woman. In case of difficulty PTO” On one side, and “Poor wee waif, cruelly abused by a wicked gennelman.” On the other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *