A federal judge blocked Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes's proposal to ask potential jurors more than 100 questions before her criminal-fraud trial, saying she could get a fair hearing without making inquiries that prosecutors called deeply intrusive.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila countered Tuesday with a slimmed-down questionnaire to send to jurors ahead of the late-August trial, which will determine whether Ms. Holmes defrauded investors, patients and doctors about her now-defunct blood-testing company.
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Prosecutors allege that Ms. Holmes and the company's former chief operating officer, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, overstated the abilities of Theranos's technology, which purported to test for dozens of health conditions with a few drops of blood extracted from a finger prick. Both have pleaded not guilty and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The process for selecting a jury has emerged as a sticking point in contentious pretrial filings between Ms. Holmes's attorneys and federal prosecutors, who have also clashed over what evidence can be shown to the jury.
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"What we're trying to do is select a jury that is fair, free from bias or, if they have bias, can they put that bias or any feelings aside," Judge Davila said during a two-hour hearing that was open to the public only via a phone line. "That's what we're looking for."
Ms. Holmes arrived at the downtown San Jose federal courthouse surrounded by her lawyers. She was also flanked by news cameras that followed her to the door of the building and, later, down the street after the hearing concluded.