As the ramifications of the Kleiman v Wright trial set in across the digital currency and blockchain industries, many are beginning to ask questions and piece together the facts. Of course, there’s been a lot of spin, so it’s good to hear from people who were actually there.
CoinGeek’s Kurt Wuckert Jr. recently had the opportunity to sit down with the defense team and interview them. If you’re tired of the spin and want to hear what really happened from the horse’s mouth, it’s worth watching this special edition of the CoinGeek Weekly Livestream or reading more about what was discussed below.
Introducing the defense
If you’ve been following CoinGeek’s coverage of the Kleiman v Wright trial, you’re already aware of who the defense team is. However, for those who are still catching up, here’s a quick reminder:
- Dr. Craig Wright was represented by law firm Rivero Mestre LLP.
- Attorneys Andres Rivero and Amanda McGovern worked the case and were there throughout the trial.
- The two legal hotshots who bagged the biggest victory in civil lawsuit history joined the CoinGeek livestream.
Dealing with a technical case
Kurt opened by asking both attorneys how it felt to deal with such a technical case. They both expressed that it was a steep learning curve, with Rivero joking that it was made more challenging by his age but that it was also fascinating to learn so much about Bitcoin.
They also mentioned that they had a specialist Bitcoin consultant who filled in some of the gaps and provided a neutral perspective on the subject.
McGovern praised Dr. Wright for being so accessible “in a way that many clients are not.” She put that down to his passion for Bitcoin and said he was very involved from the outset and was happy to answer any questions they had and teach them about Bitcoin.
How common is it for someone to do what Ira Kleiman did?
Rivero said that “relatives of the friend of the guy who’s been very successful” taking advantage of the situation was more common than many outside the industry might think.
However, McGovern said that she knew from the outset that this would be the most complex case she’d ever worked on. While some of the characteristics may be similar (greedy relatives of friends suing investors), the technicalities of this case and the sheer numbers involved made it truly unique.
What was it like working with Dr. Craig Wright?
Kurt asked how it was to work with a character as unique as Dr. Wright, a polymath with an extremely interesting and unique life story.
Rivero said there were moments when he wondered where they fit into the larger picture of things. However, he said that both he and McGovern agreed that Dr. Wright was highly accessible and helpful during the entire process.
McGovern added that she was grateful that Dr. Wright didn’t take the pressure of the situation out on her. While he was extremely precise and pedantic at times, demanding that definitions were exact and correct, he never took any of the stress of the situation out on his legal team.
On the length of the trial & other legal questions
There’s no doubt that this trial was grueling. It had many people on tenterhooks as the jury deliberated. Kurt asked them what it was like to deal with.
While this was McGovern’s longest trial, Rivero said he’d been in a much longer trial, over 140 trial days in the ’90s. “You get into a rhythm after the first week or so,” he said.
Rivero also said it was common to face off fiercely in court against other attorneys and maintain good relations with them in real life. In some cases, they even become friends. However, he said that he did not become friends with the opposing counsel in this case. McGovern said that she has never had a negative relationship that became toxic and maintained a good relationship with Andrew Brenner of the opposing counsel.
While there has been lots of spin as to who really won this trial, Rivero said that you could tell who lost this trial by the fact that the plaintiff asked for permission to contact the jurors at home. This is typically a last-ditch attempt to make sure they haven’t been pressured, etc. Naturally, the winners don’t do this.
How confident were you? At what moment did the tide turn?
McGovern acknowledged how difficult the trial was. She also said she thought this was a landmark trial in many ways because it showed that those who are wrongly accused could be vindicated even when it doesn’t look great for them at the outset.
Rivero said that they were very concerned at some points, including when the jury was deliberating. He said he was extremely relieved when the verdict came in.
Questions from the viewers
Being a live conversation, the viewers got to ask some questions to the attorneys. Some of these were very interesting.
What was the reason the receipt for the original [bitcoin.org] domain name was not used as evidence?
McGovern answered that they did not feel the need to prove that Dr. Wright was Satoshi Nakamoto again because they proved in the trial that Dave Kleiman was not. Rivero said that the plaintiffs wanted to try the man and paint him as a bad one, and part of their strategy was not to allow that to happen.
Until when can an appeal be filed?
This was a quick and easy answer; sometime around the beginning of February, Rivero said.
How involved are you in Dr. Wright’s overall legal strategy?
Rivero said their involvement went beyond just this trial and that they are aware of Dr. Wright’s overall legal strategy and long-term game plan.
What about Judge Bruce Rheinhart’s verdict that Dr. Wright was a fraud?
Rivero blew this out of the water, stating that it had been nullified by Judge Bloom and that if Rheinhart’s judgment had been upheld, there never would have been a trial. He accused those of using this judgment of “living in the past because it helps their narrative” and clarified that this had now been completely overturned.
Can we expect an appeal from Craig Wright?
McGovern said that this question has not been resolved but that the defense is firmly with the jury on the outcome.
What do you think about the media’s coverage or non-coverage of the case?
Rivero said he was surprised by the lack of coverage in the beginning. However, he noticed that it picked up by the end of the case.
What did you think would be the biggest challenge going in?
McGovern said there were several issues. First, it was critical for the court and jury to understand Bitcoin. Communicating about Bitcoin with authority was hugely important. Rivero said that he felt there were numerous statements taken out of context that looked like they supported the plaintiff’s case. He felt that the plaintiff’s over-relied on some of this evidence to their detriment.
How and when will Dr. Wright pay the $100 million to W&K?
Rivero was glad to answer this question. He first stated that there was nothing unusual about the fact it hasn’t been paid yet; there’s a process that everyone has to go through first. He also stated that he does not expect that Dr. Wright will pay the money at all. There are other cases that will demonstrate that Ira Kleiman wrongly changed company records to bring this case in the first place, he stated. Rivero believes this was improper and will lead to Dr. Wright not having to pay the money.
Were certain pieces of evidence strategically reserved for the COPA case instead of being brought up in this one?
McGovern answered this with a flat no. “You never reserve evidence that you need to win a case for a future case,” she said.
Which of the cases in the upcoming chess match are you most anxious to see the outcome of?
McGovern said there has to be a mechanism by which Bitcoin is subject to the law and that her and Rivero would be the first to make that happen. Rivero mentioned that he had received many calls from people who had Bitcoin stolen and was looking forward to developments related to this.
Check out all of the CoinGeek special reports on the Kleiman v Wright YouTube playlist.
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