There is a trial scheduled to begin on Friday. It will have been 134 days since the basketball player was taken into custody while trying to enter the country. If she is found guilty, she will face 10 years in prison. A guilty verdict is almost certain before the trial even begins, according to experts. They say the entire exercise is a ploy to get the Biden administration to trade for her freedom.
William Pomeranz is the acting director of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute and an expert on Russian law. The issue of justice is not immediately important.
What can people expect from him over the next few months? Several experts were talking about the case
Friday will be what happens.
A trial in the U.S. is not like a trial in Moscow, says a former resident legal adviser to the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
The judge will most often read the prosecutor's case file into the record. The judge will often lead the questioning when witnesses are called. The prosecutors sometimes sit like potted plants.
Most defendants spend their trials in a steel-barred cage. Russia does not have a jury and there are no surprises in court.
Pomeranz says that the facts will be a very dry one. There isn't going to be a moment like that.
The trial won't be in the sense that Americans understand.
I wouldn't call it a public trial because they let in a couple of people to watch. State media will be allowed in to get some initial photos of the proceedings, but western media will not be allowed in.
Russian courts will sometimes say a trial is public, but if you are not connected to the case, you will not be allowed in. Her family won't be present. Embassy officials are expected to attend the trial to demonstrate the government's commitment to her case, according to sources.
The defense can't do anything.
99% of Russian criminal cases end in a conviction and that's without the political factors in her case.
Average Russians think it's a fantasy. It's a double fantasy for someone in this case.
The prosecutors don't have to include exculpatory evidence in the record if the defense finds it during the investigative phase.
The judge won't consider it because it wasn't in the case file.
The Russian criminal justice system is described by Pomeranz.
During testimony, the defense has the right to object, but rarely does and is often unsuccessful.
There is evidence against him.
The prosecution knows nothing else. There is definitive proof that she did what she was accused of. There is a history of manufactured evidence from Russian prosecutors.
People have come forward to describe conversations and scenes. Experts say that evidence will be presented, the judge will accept it, and she will likely be found guilty.
She has a best strategy.
It may not be what you think.
The best defense is to admit your guilt and hope for a lesser sentence. There aren't many examples of people raising strong defense and being acquitted.
Russian judges are often forced out of office if they acquit too many people.
According to experts, Russia would likely require her to admit guilt in exchange for her release. Russian authorities could make her life worse if she pleads not guilty.
It would make sense for her to plead guilty now since there is no chance of her being acquitted. It could cause headaches for the U.S. State Department and the White House, but it could make life easier for the player.
The trial will last a long time.
The trial can move in and out of rhythm. Sometimes a judge will adjourn for a long time. He says that sometimes a witness doesn't show up and the judge adjourns the case for a few weeks.
It could take weeks or months to conclude Griner's case, since she either had or didn't have an electronic nicotine delivery device.
They have to convince everyone that she is guilty and that they have the goods on her. This is not a normal case. There is a lot of evidence that needs to be read into the record, and we will just have to see what it is.
Why are they having the trial if it is a foregone conclusion?
Danielle Gilbert is an assistant professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
She says that the trial gives the Russians more bargaining power.
The White House is under pressure to make a deal that will benefit Russia. If Russia treats the proceedings as legit, it will work.
Gilbert says that hostage diplomacy relies on the pretense of law. The Russian government is dependent on Americans' respect for the rule of law to mask their intent to use Griner.
"Unfortunately," he says, "the Russians will try to find someone else and put them in the same situation and start over."