I have hinted at this before, but apparently there really should be a paternity test given when this disgraced tech CEO gives birth.

My guess for the father would be that lawyer she spends so much time with.

Elizabeth Holmes


Does Theranos founder Holmes’ domestic-violence expert witness suggest a ‘Svengali defense’?

As clues drip out during pre-trial proceedings about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ defense strategy against federal felony charges, a judge’s order has revealed plans for a provocative claim: She suffered from a mental health issue relevant to whether she committed fraud at her failed Palo Alto blood-testing startup.

“It’s a rare defense,” said Peter Johnson, a lecturer at UCLA law school. “It’s a difficult defense.”

The details underlying Holmes’ potential strategy remain obscured from public view in filings sealed by the court or redacted from Judge Edward Davila’s order. What is known is that she plans to present what federal court rules call “Expert Evidence of a Mental Condition,” and that she plans to call as a witness a psychologist who specializes in relationship trauma. Holmes’ lawyers declined to comment on their plans, and it remains unclear how much they intend to rely on the psychologist’s testimony.

The defense expert is Dr. Mindy Mechanic, a forensic psychologist and Cal State Fullerton professor who studies domestic violence, relationship trauma and stalking, and regularly testifies in court cases. What Mechanic’s testimony might cover is redacted from Davila’s order, which said Mechanic would examine Holmes through interviews and “psychological testing” and that the claim of a mental condition relates to a period of “many years.”

No information has surfaced to suggest Holmes suffered interpersonal violence or trauma. Holmes’ only known romantic relationship while Theranos was operating was with her co-accused, former company president Sunny Balwani. Holmes, a Stanford University dropout who founded Theranos in 2003, and Balwani have denied charges that they bilked investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and defrauded doctors and patients with false claims that the company’s machines could conduct a full range of tests using just a few drops of blood.

Stanford University law school professor Robert Weisberg believes Holmes has two potential avenues for a mental-condition defense: claiming her judgment was affected or that she acted under duress. If the former, her argument “will be laid out in terms of something like her mental distress clouded her judgment so she didn’t truly form the intent to commit the crimes” perhaps because of an “overwrought or emotional state” that meant she didn’t think through the possibility that others could be harmed, Weisberg said. “You have to somehow connect the dots that the state of emotional distress … made it psychologically impossible to form the intent,” he said.

If Mechanic is to testify that Holmes acted under duress, Weisberg and other legal experts said the psychologist may focus on Holmes’ relationship with Balwani. “There may be some kind of effort at a ‘Svengali defense,’” Weisberg said, referring to a legal tactic named for a seductive, domineering character from a 19th century novel. “It would have to be in support of the claim that she was facing an immediate and extremely specific threat that harm would come to her if she didn’t do the criminal acts.”

Lawyers for Balwani did not respond to a request for comment.

The Svengali defense was famously used in the case of Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose lawyer sought to cast Tsarnaev’s older brother as the mastermind of the 2013 terror attack that killed three people and wounded hundreds. Tsarnaev was convicted and his sentencing is still before the courts. A decade earlier, lawyers for 17-year-old “Beltway sniper” Lee Malvo sought to pin responsibility for the 10 Washington, D.C-area killings in 2002 on his father figure, John Muhammad, who was executed while Malvo was sentenced to life in prison after the jury declined to recommend the death penalty. – Source

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