March 29, 2024


Opinion by Jessica A. Roth for CNN Business Perspectives

After three months of testimony and seven days of deliberations, the jurors in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes found her guilty on four charges of defrauding investors. But she was acquitted of four other charges related to the alleged scheme to defraud patients, and the jury failed to reach a verdict on three more wire fraud charges related to investors.

Nevertheless, the verdict is a stark rebuke of the defense, which attempted to portray Holmes as a visionary leader who fell victim to subordinates who misled her and investors who misunderstood her.

Trial strategists will debate for months the wisdom of the tactical choices made by Holmes’ defense team, including her decision to take the stand, her allegations of abuse, and her concession, for example, that she altered a document shown to investors to include the logos of pharmaceutical companies that had not endorsed Theranos’ products.

While those decisions by the defense are certainly worthy of debate, there are several key takeaways from the verdict.

Motivations are not a defense

First, good intentions are not a shield from criminal liability.

Holmes’ lawyers argued that she set out to change the world of biotechnology and that all her conduct was aimed at realizing that goal. According to this line of reasoning, any misrepresentations that occurred along the way were not unlawful…

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