politics

Ghislaine Maxwell Loses Bid to Seal Jury Questions Before Trial in Jeffrey Epstein-Related Sex Crime Case

The Arctic Circle via Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at the Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland October 2013.

  • A federal judge rejected a request by British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to keep proposed questions for would-be jurors sealed before a jury is picked for her trial on charges of allegedly procuring underage girls to be sexually abused by late investor Jeffrey Epstein.
  • Maxwell's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 29. Judge Alison Nathan said she will conduct the questioning of would-be jurors on Nov. 16 through 19.
  • Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was arrested in July 2019 on child sex-trafficking charges. He died a month later in a Manhattan federal jail from suicide.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell appears during her arraignment hearing on a new indictment at Manhattan Federal Court in New York, April 23, 2021, in this courtroom sketch.

A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request by British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to keep proposed questions for would-be jurors sealed from public view before a jury is picked for her trial on charges of allegedly procuring underage girls to be sexually abused by late investor Jeffrey Epstein.

Judge Alison Nathan also said the press and public would be allowed to see the questioning of prospective jurors next month.

As with her ruling that the proposed and final written jury questionnaire would be public, Nathan cited the media's First Amendment right to court access in that ruling.

Nathan denied a bid by Maxwell's lawyers to have attorneys question those would-be jurors.

Instead, the judge herself will conduct that questioning, which, like the public filing of jury questionnaires, is the norm in Manhattan federal court

Maxwell's attorneys wanted the jury questionnaires to be sealed in order to avoid adding to what they consider to have been extremely prejudicial publicity about Maxwell before and since her arrest in the summer of 2020.

Jury questionnaires as a rule ask whether a potential juror has prior knowledge of a criminal case, from news articles or other sources, whether they know people connected to the case, and whether they or people they know have been victims of crimes.

Maxwell's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 29. Nathan said she will conduct the questioning of would-be jurors on Nov. 16 through 19.

Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was arrested in July 2019 on child sex-trafficking charges. He died a month later in a Manhattan federal jail from what authorities have ruled to be a suicide by hanging.

Maxwell, who at one point was romantically involved with Epstein, was arrested a year later on charges that included enticing minors into traveling to have sex with Epstein, and perjury.

She has pleaded not guilty in the case. She has been held without bail in a Brooklyn federal jail since last year pending trial.

Her trial next month will deal only with the sex-related charges. She will be tried at a later date for the perjury case.

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