Sam Bankman-Fried and ADHD: A Trial Defense Strategy?

As the third week of the criminal trial of Bankman-Fried his defense team made an unexpected request to Judge Lewis: they wanted access to their client’s ADHD medication before Monday’s defense hearing.

SBF defense requests access to Adderall to ensure full participation in trial

After two weeks of trial involving Sam Bankman-Fried, marked by unexpected revelations from those closest to him, the third week begins with a new concern.

Court documents, recently presented by the defence of Bankman-Fried revealed its fight against attention deficit disorder with (or without) hyperactivity (ADHD) and its dependence on Adderall. While Adderall is used in the United States to treat ADHD, it is banned in Europe as a narcotic.

Faced with this situation, FTX co-founder’s lawyers on Sunday sent a letter at District Judge of New York, Lewis Kaplan. They ask authorization for Bankman-Fried to take a 20 mg dose of Adderall 12 hours before his hearing.

They point out that the interruption of treatment could hinder his active participation during his trial, particularly during the crucial presentation of defense arguments.

According to the letter, the lack of medication has already affected the concentration of Bankman-Fried during the trial. Lawyers are therefore concerned about his ability to intervene coherently during the next stages of his defense.

Bankman-Fried under psychiatric treatment since 2019

The judge Kaplan had previously approved Bankman-Fried to Adderall and antidepressants because of his history of severe depressive disorders. This authorization was based on the pleadings of his lawyers, who pointed out that his history of major depressive disorder and ADHD syndrome. They also mentioned that he had been under medical care since the beginning of 2019.

Nevertheless, at the August 22 hearing, the defense expressed concern that Bankman-Fried had not taken Adderall for the previous 11 days. In their argument, they expressed reservations about the current efficacy of the extended-release dose of Adderall.

Faced with these uncertainties, lawyers for Bankman-Fried suggested postponing the trial for a day, in order to determine the best course of action to ensure the smooth conduct of the remainder of the trial.

The mental health and well-being of individuals are often invoked at the heart of legal proceedings. In the case of SBF, although the court takes his medical needs into account, it seems legitimate to question the authenticity of these allegations.

After all, having already pleaded not guilty, it cannot be ruled out that this emphasis on his disorders is a strategy to influence the judicial decision or to prepare a possible defense based on impaired discernment. The rest of the trial will be interesting to follow.