The criminal proceedings accusing Gregg Smith, Michael Nowak, Jeffrey Ruffo, and Christopher Jordan of spoofing continue at the Illinois Northern District Court. The former JPMorgan traders have now clashed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the identification of alleged victim-witnesses.

Whereas the Justice Department claims that June 18, 2021, is the appropriate date for identification of the alleged victim-witnesses, the traders insist the proper date for this is February 28, 2021.

The government contends that requiring victim-witness identification by February 28, 2021, as the defendants request, will lead the defense to waste resources on victim-witnesses who ultimately may not testify in the government’s case-in-chief. But while a late-February list might be overinclusive, the absence of such information concerning the government’s anticipated alleged victim-witnesses will force the defense to subpoena an even larger universe of potential witnesses: the dozens of counterparties involved in the trading sequences that the government intends to introduce in its case-in-chief.

Thus, the government’s proposed approach, purportedly in the interest of conserving resources, plainly risks even greater wasted time and effort by defense counsel, third parties, and the Court, the defendants say.

The defense insists it cannot wait until June 18, four months prior to trial, to begin the process of seeking information from the alleged victim-witnesses. The defense adds that effective trial preparation is time consuming, particularly where the gathering of evidence may itself require litigation.

Contrary to the government’s contention, while such litigation may be resolved in the four months between mid-June and mid-October, that schedule does not ensure that the defendants will have sufficient opportunity to process, analyze, and meaningfully use the data thereby obtained, the defense argues.

Defendants submit that the Court should therefore require the government to identify its alleged victim-witnesses by February 28, 2021.

Let’s recall that, back in 2019, the DOJ launched criminal proceedings against the former JPMorgan precious metals futures traders. The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in widespread spoofing, market manipulation and fraud while working at JPMorgan through the placement of orders they intended to cancel before execution in an effort to create liquidity and drive prices toward orders they wanted to execute on the opposite side of the market.