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Monday, May 16, 2022

Ghislaine Maxwell files for a RETRIAL after juror told that he did NOT reveal his own child abuse on jury questionnaire

Ghislaine Maxwell‘s attorneys have requested that her sex trafficking conviction be overturned and the case be retried, due to a juror’s possible failure to disclose that he was sexually abused as a child before the trial.

In a court filing late on Friday, Maxwell’s attorneys said that they had filed a motion for retrial under seal, but referenced Juror No. 50, Scotty David, who opened up about his traumatic past in an interview with DailyMail.com following the trial.

‘For the reasons set forth in the Motion, we request that all submissions pertaining to Juror No. 50 remain under seal until the Court rules on the Motion,’ attorney Bobbi C. Sternheim wrote in a letter to Judge Alison Nathan.

Maxwell is hoping for a retrial in her sex trafficking case after David revealed he told the jury about his own abuse as a child during deliberations, potentially affecting the verdict.

He first told DailyMail.com that he had not revealed his history during jury selection because it had not been asked on the questionnaire.

When it was pointed out that question 48 of the 50 asked exactly that, he then claimed that he did not remember it, but had answered all questions ‘honestly.’

Maxwell, 60, was convicted on five federal charges related to sex trafficking last month for her role facilitating sex predator Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse, and faces up to 65 years in prison.

Maxwell’s lawyers said earlier this month there were ‘incontrovertible grounds’ for a new trial in light of David’s admissions.

Prosecutors, who have requested that U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan conduct an inquiry into the juror’s statements, will have until February 2 to respond to Maxwell’s motion.

Legal experts say that Maxwell would not be guaranteed a new trial even if the juror did not disclose his abuse on the questionnaire, noting that cases of juror dishonesty that led to verdicts being overturned generally involved jurors who deliberately lied in order to be selected.

Nathan last week scheduled Maxwell’s sentencing hearing for June 28.

David was the first of two jurors who have revealed their stories of sexual abuse and the role that sharing it played in deliberations.

He first told DailyMail.com that he had not revealed this history during jury selection because it had not been asked on the juror questionnaire.

When it was pointed out that question 48 of 50 asked exactly that question, he then claimed that he did not remember it but had answered all questions ‘honestly.’

He told other outlets that he, ‘flew through’ the questionnaire.

He also revealed that a second juror had shared their own story of sexual abuse, a claim later verified by the juror who wished to remain anonymous.

US State Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams called for the court to, ‘conduct an inquiry,’ in a letter filed in Federal Court earlier this month claiming that public statements made by the juror, ‘merit attention by the Court.’

The letter stated, ‘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.’

The letter signed off by all four prosecutors asked for a hearing to be scheduled within the month.

But Maxwell’s lawyers have insisted that no investigation is necessary, calling instead for a new trial and claiming that the statements that both jurors have now made publicly across multiple news outlets are ‘incontrovertible grounds’ for a mistrial.

Judge Alison Nathan has stated that she will hear briefings from all parties as the high-profile prosecution hovers on the brink of implosion.

Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Insider that David and the second jurors’ decision to speak out was, ‘absolutely the last thing you want when you get a guilty verdict. It’s an absolute disaster.’

Maxwell was convicted on five out of six counts of sexual trafficking in a verdict that came at the end of the fifth day of deliberations and proceedings that lasted four weeks.

But now, according to Rahmani, ‘This entire conviction may get tossed and we may have to retry the case.’

The admission by the jurors pose two potential issues – perjury, or lying under oath and prejudice, or a preconceived opinion that may have improperly swayed the jury.

According to Maxwell’s lawyers it makes no difference whether either or both jurors deliberately or simply mistakenly failed to correctly answer the juror questionnaire when asked, ‘Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault? (This includes actual or attempted sexual assault or other unwanted sexual advance, including by a stranger, acquaintance, supervisor, teacher, or family member).’

There were three boxes to tick by way of answer: Yes (self), Yes (friend or family member) and No.

Questioned by DailyMail.com, David could remember only a question relating to friends or family members and colored up when pressed about any answer relating to his own sexual history.

According to former Federal Prosecutor David S Weinstein, now a partner in Miami based law firm Jones Walker, all jurors may now be interviewed, specifically the two jurors who have shared their stories publicly.

He said that the admissions would not necessarily be considered automatic grounds for a mistrial but that it would, at the very least, be ‘an arrow in the quiver’ for Maxwell’s appeal.

He said, ‘There’s going to be a record of whether or not he was asked that question, what his answer was, whether there were any follow up questions. Maxwell’s lawyer will have this questionnaire and they will go back to it.’

DailyMail.com has already established that whatever David answered on the questionnaire it did not elicit any follow up questions at the interview or ‘voir dire’ stage of jury selection.

David told DailyMail.com, ‘It was never raised. We went in front of the judge and there were all the lawyers in the room and that’s where they asked me some questions. They asked me what I do, what I like to do for fun and if I can be fair and impartial. It was literally like 30 seconds long and then I was out of the room.’

Conversely when he shared his story in the jury room on day three of deliberations, he recalled ‘the room went silent.’

According to David his own sharing led a second juror to share their story. His experience, he said, allowed him to better understand the victims who testified and parlay that into a better understanding in jurors who were not convinced of the victims’ credibility.

Epstein died in 2019 at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges, in what was ruled a suicide.

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