Day 1: Jury Selection and Opening Statements
The most anticipated civil trial since the O. J. Simpson court proceedings started Monday, November 2, 2021, in a Miami federal courtroom. The difference here is that these proceedings are not televised for the world to watch. Millions of people in the digital asset space across the globe have a huge interest in the outcome of the Kleiman v Wright case. There’s also quite a much larger sum of money involved, specifically 1.1 million Bitcoin valued at more than $65 billion (yes, billion) US dollars.
This case will ultimately decide the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. Whether it is solely Craig Wright, nChain Chief Scientist and inventor of and author of the Bitcoin white paper, or if David Kleiman and Wright together worked as Satoshi Nakamoto and created Bitcoin will be decided.
The Miami courtroom played host to the initial phase of the trial which included jury selection and opening statements. Jury selection is generally on the boring side. But with challenges from both sides to eliminate potential jurors, the two parties ultimately agreed on final selections and thus kicked off their opening statements. One note on the jury selection: CoinGeek journalist Kurt Wuckert Jr. who is there covering the trial, was a bit surprised at the number of potential jurors who had a good knowledge of digital assets.
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Ira Kleiman, the complainant in the case, and his team of lawyers hope to prove David was indeed a legal business partner of Craig in creating Bitcoin. Kyle Rosche for the Kleiman team gave a poignant speech to the jury that stated Wright and Ira’s late brother David had a legal partnership, W&K Info Defense Research LLC, in which they collaborated to create Bitcoin together. In his speech, he also accused Craig of lying over time with regards to their relationship.
“You’re going to see the tangled web of lies that Craig Wright has spun for years,” said Rosche in his opening statement.
On the other side, Wright’s team took a different and more moderate approach to opening statements. Amanda McGovern, attorney for Wright, touched on the personal friendship that existed between two colleagues. She also pointed out the lack of any written agreement existing between the two with regards to creating Bitcoin and that this so-called partnership was fabricated by Ira after the death of his brother.
Witnesses in this case (numbering 35 more or less) will begin taking the stand in what is expected to last for weeks. Judge Beth Bloom of the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, stated she expects to wrap this case up before the Thanksgiving holiday, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Day 2: Andreas Antonopoulos and Patrick Paige Take the Stand
Witness for the plaintiff, Andreas Antonopoulos, provided the court and the jury with a basic explanation of Bitcoin and the ownership of it. Much of his explanation was elementary to some but understandable, considering the jury has little to no knowledge of blockchain. He went on to explain other aspects including the mining of Bitcoin which he has never done himself, a point which was made clear during cross examination.
While he is being touted as an expert by the plaintiff, he does not have any knowledge as to the relationship between Wright and Kleiman and the idea that they mined Bitcoin together in a business relationship.
There were two surprises in the courtroom for this hearing as well. The first being that this is the second day of proceedings and Ira Kleiman was nowhere to be seen. Second, witness for the plaintiff, Patrick Paige took the stand and stated Dr. Craig Wright told him that Dave was one of the creators of Bitcoin during his testimony. In a highly contested objection by the defense team, an email reportedly from Dr. Wright to Paige was read, which stated: “Dave and I had a project in the U.S. He ran it there. We kept what we did secret…the company we ran there mined Bitcoin.”
CoinGeek journalist Kurt Wukert Jr. is covering the trial in Miami and had this to say in his summary of the day’s proceedings:
“If I had to give today a side, I’d give a slight edge to the Kleiman people. Only to the untrained eye, but as a juror I would look at, umm, I would have looked at today and I would say; I saw 30 emails or so that are alleged to be from Craig (Wright) talking about Dave, his partner, mentioning Bitcoin to various people, and then in some cases mentioning a third unnamed partner.”
More of the day’s events as reported by Kurt including what was said in the day’s final deposition by Gavin Andresan can be viewed here: