Last week a jury found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five charges of sex trafficking for her role in Jeffrey Epstein's longtime abuse of young girls and women. This week, the verdict looks to be in jeopardy thanks to one of the jurors, who failed to disclose his own history of sexual abuse during voir dire.
If you want a detailed rundown, check out trial lawyer Mitchell Epner's substack. But the quick version goes like this.
After the guilty verdict, a juror going by "Scotty David" gave several media interviews in which he claimed to be a survivor of child sex abuse who persuaded other jurors to find the witnesses against Maxwell credible by drawing on his own experiences. He also told The Independent, "This verdict is for all the victims. For those who testified, for those who came forward and for those who haven’t come forward. I’m glad that Maxwell has been held accountable." And for good measure, he told the Daily Mail, “After all I’ve learned, she’s just as guilty as Epstein. I don’t want to call her a monster, but a predator is the right word. She knew what was happening. She knew what Epstein was doing and she allowed it to happen. She participated in getting these girls comfortable so that he could have his way with them."
Which is NOT GREAT, BOB, since you don't have to squint all that hard to see someone who is biased against defendants accused of sexual assault. Or someone who really wanted to get on the jury because he loves attention, and left out his own personal history because it would probably have caused the defense to strike him. Or someone who inadvertently left out something that materially affected the outcome of this case. In any event, it's not a good look in one of the biggest cases of 2021.
What's worse is that "Scotty David" claims that he "flew through" the jury questionnaire and doesn't remember if he disclosed his history of abuse.
Safe bet that he didn't disclose it, since the government sent a letter to the court on Wednesday requesting an "inquiry" into the juror's possible misconduct and its impact on the verdict.
For their part, Maxwell's lawyers are not down with an "inquiry." They were thinking more along the lines of "immediate mistrial," both because of the juror's failure to disclose and to spare Maxwell the expense of filing post-trial and sentencing motions if the verdict is going to wind up getting tossed out. And they don't want the court to be appointing any government-funded lawyer for "Scotty David" either, arguing that "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."
Luckily "Scotty David" rejected the court-appointed lawyer and hired his own counsel, so there's one less issue to argue about. Which is lucky, because this thing is now a total shitshow.
US District Judge Alison Nathan has ordered a briefing schedule extending into March on the issue of a retrial. The defense is already talking about bringing back all the jurors to depose them on the issue of "Scotty David's" perhaps undue influence. The government is no doubt furious, and may well bring perjury charges against "Scotty David" if his mistake winds up blowing up this case. And, worst of all, the victims who came forward and testified now face the prospect of having to do it again.
Sometimes the American legal system kinda sucks. This is one of those times.
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