Ghislaine Maxwell lawyers cannot keep retrial arguments under seal, judge rules

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers cannot keep sealed their detailed legal arguments about a juror in her trial who might not have disclosed childhood sex abuse during jury selection, a judicial decision issued Friday said.

Judge Alison Nathan wrote: “[The] defendant’s motion to temporarily seal, in their entirety, all documents related to the motion for a new trial, is denied.”

This ruling stems from Maxwell’s filing of detailed arguments for a new trial, relating to this juror, under seal.

Maxwell was found guilty on 29 December of sex trafficking and associated counts for facilitating Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls, some as young as 14. Epstein, a financier and convicted sex offender, was apprehended in July 2019 for sex trafficking minor teens. Epstein killed himself approximately one month later in a New York City jail while awaiting trial.

The arguments on sealing documents stem from controversy about Juror 50, who has been identified as Scotty David. After Maxwell’s trial, David gave interviews where he claimed to have been sexually abused as a child.

Maxwell’s lawyers claimed that filing their defense documents publicly, before Nathan makes a decision about a hearing or retrial, “will provide a roadmap of the defense’s examination of Juror 50 and will allow him to plan out and tailor his responses, or even potentially spoliate evidence, to paint himself and his conduct in the best light possible”.

David publicly said that he told other panelists about this sexual abuse during deliberations, allowing them to understand circumstances from a victim’s perspective.

David’s statements about alleged abuse spurred questions because potential jurors filed out questionnaires as part of the selection process. These questionnaires inquired about sexual abuse.

David reportedly said that he did not remember a question on abuse but said he had answered every question truthfully. In the wake of David’s statements, prosecutors asked Nathan to investigate his comments. Maxwell’s lawyers promptly asked for a hearing and new trial.

In issuing her decision about sealing, Nathan said: “The court is unpersuaded by the defendant’s concern that media interest in the motion warrants temporary sealing of the documents in their entirety.”

Nathan said that both sides must propose “narrowly tailored” redactions. It is unclear when these redacted documents will be made public.

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