Ghislaine Maxwell Convictions At Risk Due To Alleged Juror Misconduct
Defense seeks new trial: “Among other things, the Juror told reporters that he disclosed to the other members of the jury during deliberations that he was a victim of sexual abuse and further described his memory of those events. According to the Juror, his disclosure influenced the deliberations and convinced other members of the jury to convict Ms. Maxwell.”
Ghislain Maxwell was convicted on 5 of 6 charges in her sex trafficking trial, related to her time as a consort to Jeffrey Epstein. She faced a long prison sentence that, at her age of 60, would be the equivalent of life in prison.
And then a bombshell dropped today. The NY Times reported that the prosecutors alerted the court to possible misconduct by two jurors:
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday asked the judge who oversaw Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial to investigate the process by which one of the jurors was chosen, after he told news outlets he was a sexual abuse victim and had discussed his experience during deliberations.
The prosecutors’ request, in a letter filed with the court, raised the possibility of additional inquiry into how jurors who voted to convict Ms. Maxwell had been selected and the prospect of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers moving to have a mistrial declared in the closely watched case.
Later on Wednesday, Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers indicated they planned to do just that, saying in two letters to the judge that their client would seek a new trial and that the judge “can and should order” one without holding a hearing, as the government had requested….
In another potential complication, a second juror described in an interview with The New York Times having been sexually abused as a child. This juror, who requested anonymity, said that they, too, had discussed the experience during deliberations and that the revelation had appeared to help shape the jury’s discussions.
The two jurors’ disclosures could be particularly problematic if they failed to note their experiences to the court during jury selection. All the potential jurors in the case were asked in a confidential questionnaire whether they or any relatives or friends had been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment.
The juror who was interviewed by the other news outlets, including The Independent and Reuters, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
I pulled the prosecutor and defense attorneys’ letters, and the court’s scheduling Order on it, from Pacer You can read the heavily redacted documents below, which I’ve excerpted below.
USA v. Ghislaine Maxwell – Jan 5 2022 Letter U.S. to Judge Re Juror
The Government has become aware that a juror has given several interviews to press outlets regarding his jury service in this case.1 While the Court instructed jurors that they were free to discuss their jury service with anyone of their choosing, some of the statements, as related in the media, merit attention by the Court. In particular, the juror has described being a victim of sexual abuse. Assuming the accuracy of the reporting, the juror asserted that he “flew through” the prospective juror questionnaire and does not recall being asked whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse, but stated that “he would have answered honestly.”2
Based on the foregoing, the Government believes the Court should conduct an inquny…. If the Court decides to schedule such a hearing, the Government respectfully suggests that the Court’s staff promptly contact the juror to notify him of the hearing and inquire whether he would like counsel to be appointed in connection with it.
[1 The Government is aware of at least three interviews at this point, which are available at the following links: (1) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/maxwell-juror-accountabuse-b1986478.html; (2) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10370193/Ghislaine-Maxwell-juror-says-evidence-convinced-panel-predator.html; and (3) https://www.reuters.com/world/us/some-ghislaine-maxwell-jurors-initially-doubted-accusersjuror-says-2022-01-05/.]
[2 See https://www.reuters.com/world/us/someaccusers- juror-sa s-2022-01-05/. [Remainder Redacted in Original]
USA v. Ghislaine Maxwell – Jan 5 2022 Letter Maxwell Lawyer Pagliuca to Judge Re Juror
I write in response to the government’s letter of this morning requesting a hearing to consider a Juror’s statements to various media sources that the Juror was a victim of sexual assault. Doc. 568. The government’s request for a hearing is premature because based on undisputed, publicly available information, the Court can and should order a new trial without any evidentiary hearing….
Respectfully, it is not the proper function of the Court to contact the Juror and suggest that he retain an attorney or to secure the appointment of an attorney on his behalf. There is no indication this Juror either needs a lawyer or is indigent and qualifies for court-appointed counsel. Moreover, any such action would undermine the search for the truth and thus potentially compromise Ms. Maxwell’s constitutional right to trial by an impartial jury.
Ms. Maxwell intends to request a new trial under Rule 33 because the “interest of justice so requires.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(a). Any submission will include all known undisputed remarks of the Juror, including recorded statements, the relevant questionnaire, and other non-controverted facts. It is clear to Ms. Maxwell that based on this record alone a new trial is required. If this Court disagrees, however, Ms. Maxwell requests that a hearing be scheduled sooner than one month from now. Ms. Maxwell also suggests that all the deliberating jurors will need to be examined, not to impeach the verdict, but to evaluate the Juror’s conduct.
USA v. Ghislaine Maxwell – Jan 5 2022 Letter Maxwell Lawyer Everdell to Judge Re Juror
We write concerning an issue of pressing importance. It has come to the attention of the defense that one of the twelve jurors in this case (the “Juror”) has been giving oral and videotaped interviews to various members of the press concerning the jury deliberations. These interviews have been publicly reported in several media outlets.1 Among other things, the Juror told reporters that he disclosed to the other members of the jury during deliberations that he was a victim of sexual abuse and further described his memory of those events. According to the Juror, his disclosure influenced the deliberations and convinced other members of the jury to convict Ms. Maxwell.
[1 See Lucia Osborne-Crowley, “‘They were all believable’: Maxwell juror says jury was convinced by accusers’ accounts of a pattern of abuse,” The Independent (Jan. 4, 2022); Laura Collins and Daniel Bates, “‘Ghislaine was a predator as guilty as Epstein’: Maxwell juror describes moment he ‘locked eyes’ with sex trafficker and reveals his own abuse ordeal,” Daily Mail (Jan. 5, 2022), available at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10370193/Ghislaine-Maxwell-juror-says-evidence-convinced-panel-predator.html; Luc Cohen, “Some Ghislaine Maxwell jurors initially doubted accusers, juror says,” Reuters (Jan. 5, 2022).]
USA v. Ghislaine Maxwell – Jan 5 2022 Court Order Re Juror Motions
The Court is in receipt of the parties’ letters. Dkt. Nos. 568, 569, 570. The Court hereby sets the following briefing schedule for the Defense to move for a new trial in light of the issues raised in the parties’ letters:
• Defense motion: January 19, 2022
• Government response: February 2, 2022
• Defense reply: February 9, 2022
The parties’ briefing should address whether an inquiry of some kind is permitted and/or required, and, if so, the nature of such an inquiry. Although the Court reserves decision on whether an inquiry of any kind is warranted, the Court grants the Government’s request, Dkt. No. 568, to offer court-appointed counsel to the juror in issue. Subject to the juror’s right to decline court-appointed counsel, the Court will appoint the on-duty CJA counsel to represent the juror. If counsel for the juror wishes to be heard on the issue of the appropriateness of an inquiry, briefing by the juror’s counsel may be filed by January 26, 2022.
So this is pretty serious. We don’t know much about the first juror’s problem, but the second juror seems to have acknowledged using his own personal history of sexual abuse to convince other jurors to find Maxwell guilty. That’s obviously irrelevant; whether a juror was abused has nothing to do with whether Maxwell sex-trafficked for Epstein. Whether the juror lied on the jury questionnaire, however, may be the key fact for the court. Also, that the prosecution was the first to contact the court reflects the seriousness of it.
Juror concealment, of course, is a problem in many high profile cases. In the Derek Chauvin case, the court refused the defense request to conduct an examination of a juror who failed to disclose during jury selection his pro-BLM protest history including wearing an anti-Chauvin t-shirt. With Chauvin’s plea to federal charges, it seems that potential juror misconduct will never get a hearing.
The judge in the Maxwell case appears to be heading down a more proper path. Whether it results in the convictions being vacated remains to be seen, but at least Maxwell will get her day in court on possible juror misconduct, unlike Derek Chauvin.
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Aaah, the fix.
Yup. Jack Ruby was convicted of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald and sentenced to death. Not so fast. His conviction was overturned on the grounds of improper admission of testimony and the fact that Ruby could not have received a fair trial in Dallas at the time. He never faced a new trial although one was “planned.” How convenient for an assassin. We had a good show here (the trial) and now it’s time for the “correction.”
You left out the part where Ruby was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died in January of 1967 when the new trial was scheduled for February of 1967. The final appellate ruling on his case was in October of 1966. We don’t prosecute dead people.
“We don’t prosecute dead people.”
Perhaps it is time we start, since we’re now “impeaching” elected officials who have left office.
It is almost like everyone set it up that way so they don’t have to go through us all saying #GhislaineDidNotKillHerself
If I were a victim of sexual abuse, I certainly would not go around spouting off about it, particularly to someone who could broadcast it all over the place. So when the voir dire was being conducted, surely this juror would have been questioned about such a thing, so did they commit perjury or was this person a plant, in order to invalidate the trial results? Raises a lot of questions about possibilities doesn’t it?
OK, the charges get tossed with prejudice and all those involved in the victimizing walk. It is the new legal system. Get used to it.
Why would the charges be dismissed with prejudice? Even the defence aren’t asking for that.
Incidentally you don’t need to repeat your name every time.
The defence keeps getting paid if the case is retried, the billable hours stop if the charges get dismissed.
Try her again.
Break her, like she broke the children she whored out.
Strangely, I just studied this exact issue in preparation for the February Bar Exam. The convictions are not at risk. The correct answer here is that testimony concerning jurors’ mental processes during deliberations is INADMISSIBLE in motion for for a new trial.
Rule 606(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides:
Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury’s deliberations or to the effect of anything influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning the juror’s mental processes in connection therewith, except that a juror may testify on the question whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror. Nor may a juror’s affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror concerning a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying be received for these purposes.
( United States v. Oshatz (S.D.N.Y. 1989) 715 F.Supp. 74, 75.)
Juris doctor-perhaps this is the operative portion of FRE 606(b):
“…[E}xcept that a juror may testify on the question whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror. Nor may a juror’s affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror concerning a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying be received for these purposes.”
If the jury was influenced by what one or two of the jurors said about past incidents of abuse in their own lives, that may very well constitute “extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror” that resulted in a verdict that was a denial of due process to the defendant.
But isn’t there another possibility here? That one or more jurors lied during the jury questionnaire and those lies are so serious that the prosecution is the one that brought it up to the court? The article points out that it was prosecutors that went to court over the juror issue. I guess we are in a wait and see situation since none of us know what the jurors told the court before they were seated as jurors. I’d think it would be a major problem if a possible juror was asked if they had been sexually abused and they said no but later after being seated as a juror and during deliberations they talked about being sexually abused.
No, because “lying” would require proof of intent. Here, the assertion is carelessness in “flying through the questionaire.” Not good nough to establish intent to mislead or deceive.
Surely intent can be inferred from the act. They did mislead, therefore they intended to mislead.
Lying or not, isn’t failure to disclose this a big issue? You couldn’t find a juror that would be assumed to be more prejudiced and less impartial. Isn’t preventing that the essence of our jury system?
No because the failure to disclose has to be willful. (intent). Inadvertance is not good enough.
Funny how proof of intent is obligatory when convicting an seasoned federal government functionary for setting up a bathroom email server to hide her bribery correspondence, but not at all necessary to convict me and you for shooting gamebirds over a field that someone entirely unknown to us baited several weeks previously.
In a case everyone knew was about sexual abuse of minors, they “forgot” to mention their own abuse on the questionnaire under penalty of perjury. And is evidence related to jury deliberations (not even state of mind, but what they actually said) inadmissable for determining whether the error on the questionnaire was innocent?
Having gone through a really traumatic event, I call “BS” on it not being intentional. Anything remotely related is a painful reminder.
jb4 fair enough.
Hard to imagine this wasn’t an outright lie–and now the juror is trying to cover up or excuse the lie through this notion of carelessness in “flying through the questionaire”.
“The convictions are not at risk.” – Well, normally would the prosecution not have pointed this problem out, and after the defense did wouldn’t the prosecution then try to counter the arguments? Especially after securing a conviction? If prosecution and defense concur, would that put convictions at risk?
Is it unusual for the prosecution to search for these types of issues and join the defense in asking for a new trial? I don’t know the answer, it seems strange to me but I’m not a student or practitioner of law so this seems a great place to ask.
So–there is no remedy. No issue?
Never underestimate the corruption when a Comey is involved.
Was trying to remember which swampy was running the prosecution. I recall people had been surprised at just how fast both the prosecution and the defense had wrapped up the case.
Guess we know why now.
So…who were the “Johns” involved in this? Aside from a few clumsy attempts to tie Trump to this, the Joseph Goebbels media seems to have gone mostly dark on which rich and powerful men (if any) had sex with underage girls.
Did #TimesUp morph into #NeverMind?
#TimesUp and #MeToo ended when they realized it was 90% Democrats that were getting burned by it.
For years the Republicans were watched for any transgressions while the Democrats were protected. Not surprising to me who was eventually caught in the #metoo trap.
Let’s not forget that Ghislaine promised to name names if convicted. Maybe she has started to sing and Bill Clinton isn’t the only one on the playlist. How ironic it would be if the forester, I believe his name was Jim not John Comey was one of those on the playlist. That would bring the prosecution scaling the walls of the courthouse to bring on the charge of jury impropriety, wouldn’t it?
What if Ghislaine has videotapes of Joe and Hunter on the island?
She doesn’t. The FBI does now since the raid, and we can trust them to be secure and perfectly legal with the evidence, and not use it for political blackmail.
We know for certain that they were not secure.
You have a very dry sense of humor, georgfelis.
The operative word is “had”. Now, the FBI “has” them, and you can be sure they are “lost”–until the old J. Edgar Hoover operation needs them for its own purposes.
The FBI has been corrupt since the get-go. Read any bio of Hoover. His name is on their building. That says it all.
IIRC, there were a bunch of records related to that from the original case – and the FBI lost them.
*tinfoil hat on*
What if this is the way to keep her alive by keeping her out of prison?
My first question is were jurors even asked about this? Does anyone have a copy of the questionnaire for jurors for this trial?
My second question is if there was a question relating to past abuse for prospective jurors, and the jurors in question answered honestly, wouldn’t that be the end of it? At that point seems like the fault of council to not disqualify the jurors.
Having sat at the prosecution table a number of times, my experience is the Juror Questionaire more likely than not would include such a question (a real intentional/unintentional screw up if it didn’t). For the defense jury selection expert to miss not just one, but two people honestly answering the question (if on the questionnaire) is highly unlikely as that would be a career ending mistake and they are well paid not to make such mistakes.
So, Edward–what is the remedy? JurisDoctor, above, seems to indicate it is unfortunate, but of no consequence?
“…except that a juror may testify on the question whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention …” JurisDoctor
Jurors sharing their experience is both extraneous (does not pertain to the instant case) and prejudicial (it is far more than highly unlikely that it was delivered to the other Jurors in a completely neutral way, it is an extremely personal revelation of a criminal act upon their persons for the alleged two jurors).
First I heard commentary that the prosecution was failing to put up a case in chief which provided proof that the charges leveled were accurate and Ms. Maxwell did violate the statutes.
Next I heard rumblings that it appeared the prosecution wanted to lose the case.
And now this…
Guess DoJ is too busy going after trespassers to be bothered with this case.
I’m thinking that the juror answered the private questionnaire that he was not abused, but is now giving interviews about this, and jurors are talking about how the sexual abuse of the jurors influenced the decision. Otherwise, I’m not sure that the government would have suggested a hearing and counsel be appointed for that juror–are they thinking that there was some bad behavior on the part of the juror?
This wouldn’t be the first or last time that a juror lied in order to get on the jury of a high profile case.
Wait a minute! Are you lawyers saying that the jurors are NOT expected/required to diligently and truthfully answer the questionnaires? That sluffing through and just checking boxes is sufficient? Surely if a potential juror is not honest and completely truthful, regardless of intent, that is perjury. And, surely, juror perjury demands a mistrial!
Hypo: A murder trial going along smoothly and, to everyone’s surprise, the major determinant is the characteristic of the weapon. This was unforeseen by both sides.
So the prosecution brings in a firearms expert who testifies to….whatever it is.
One juror says, I was an Infantry armorer for six years. I know this weapon. What the guy said is utterly impossible.
Turns out he was an Infantry armorer for six years and does have much expertise but….the issue was never brought up in jury selection because neither side anticipated this path. Nobody asked so he didn’t answer.
I think we’ve pretty much established that the question WAS asked, and that the juror(s) DID indicate they had never been abused. This whole issue of “oversight” and “intent” is bullshit designed to exonerate perjury, like they exonerated Hillary’s violation of classification rules.
Sure, then the juror should bring his expertise to bear in helping the jury evaluate the credibility of evidence presented in the trial. But two differences:
(1) it’s more a matter of expertise and less in the sort of feelings that could bleed over into other areas of judgment
(2) it probably was asked and we would expect it was asked, because it was a very likely issue to be involved in the trial.