“The government respectfully submits that the defendant has not justified her sealing request and, accordingly, the defense motion and its exhibits should be publicly docketed,” they told Manhattan federal court judge Alison Nathan.
A jury on 29 December found Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking and related counts for facilitating the late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls, some as young as 14.
Epstein, himself a convicted sex offender, was apprehended in July 2019 for sex trafficking teen girls; he killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell about one month later, while awaiting trial.
Days after Maxwell was convicted, Juror 50, later identified as Scotty David, gave interviews where he publicly claimed to have been sexually abused as a child. David reportedly stated that he told other panelists about this abuse – helping them see things from a victim’s point of view.
David’s statements about prior abuse spurred questions because potential jurors completed questionnaires as part of the selection process – which directly enquired about sexual abuse. One of these questions was: “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”
David reportedly maintained that he did not recall the question on abuse but stated he had answered every question honestly. Following David’s interviews, the prosecution asked Nathan to investigate his statements; Maxwell’s lawyers quickly requested a hearing and new trial.
Maxwell’s team filed detailed arguments for a new trial under seal. They even filed their argument for sealing under wraps, but Nathan said on 26 January that it must be filed publicly.
Maxwell’s lawyers did so on 1 February, saying that unsealing these detailed arguments “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,” giving him an “improper preview” of their position.
They also said that Maxwell “does not seek to seal the motion indefinitely” and “seeks only a temporary sealing to protect the integrity of any fact-finding process ordered by the court”.
Prosecutors said Maxwell’s concerns about an “improper preview” were unfounded, contending that her arguments contain “some of the relevant case law and information about statements reportedly made by Juror 50 in the news media”.
Maxwell’s lawyers could always redact sensitive material, they also noted.
“There can be no need to hide from public view a discussion of public materials,” prosecutors said.