June 16, 2024

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos in 2003.

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos in 2003.
Image: Justin Sullivan / Staff (Getty Images)

A judge overseeing the appeal hearing of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes hinted that she may have a shot at getting her conviction and at one point 11-year prison sentence appealed.

One of Holmes’ attorneys appeared in front of a three-judge panel in a federal San Francisco court on Tuesday to make the case for Holmes, who was convicted in November 2022 of defrauding investors with misleading claims about Theranos’s technology.

Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 when she was 19 years old with the aim to revolutionize blood testing. Holmes claimed that Theranos had developed a device that could run dozens of tests from blood drawn from single pinprick.

The company had raised $700 million from big-name investors like former U.S. secretary of education Betsy DeVos, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton. However, an exposé by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou revealed that Theranos’ blood tests failed to meet the claims made by the company.

Holmes’ lawyers are now claiming that she did not knowingly mislead investors.

“The public narrative regarding the spectacle of Theranos’ downfall is that the company’s technology simply did not work and Holmes knew it,” the attorneys wrote in a court filing in November. “But Holmes’ intent and knowledge on this central question were intensely contested at trial.”

They added, “Substantial evidence showed that Holmes and Theranos’ scientists believed in good faith that Theranos had developed technology that could accurately run virtually any blood test.”

Holmes’ attorney Amy Saharia also argued in court today that Judge Edward Davila, who presided over Holmes’ original trial, unfairly allowed former Theranos scientist Kingshuk Das to give expert testimony before the jury about his opinions on Theranos’ technology.

NBC reporter Scott Budman posted Tuesday on X that appellate court Judge Ryan Nelson said, “They do have a pretty good basis for some unfairness here… There is a pretty good story here for Ms. Holmes.”

The judges did not say when they would make a decision on the appeal.

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