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“The Court concludes that Juror 50 testified credibly and truthfully at the post-trial hearing. His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” Judge Alison Nathan just ruled.
Jeffrey Epstein’s convicted madam and longtime partner had requested a new trial after a juror in her case falsely stated during jury selection that he was not a victim of sexual assault. Following the trial, though, he told news outlets that he had disclosed to fellow jurors during deliberations that he was a child sex abuse victim. And he said he believed his revelation helped sway some jurors towards a guilty verdict.
After prosecutors alerted the court about the issue and requested an inquiry, defense lawyers insisted the judge should immediately toss the verdict and order a new trial. The juror was then required to testify at an unusual hearing where he received immunity from the Justice Department. Identified as “Juror No. 50,” he told judge Nathan that he had skimmed through the questionnaire and had no intention of answering it inaccurately. He called it “one of the biggest mistakes” of his life and said he was not biased toward the defendant.
The British socialite’s attorneys had argued that Maxwell’s right for a “fair and impartial trial” was “violated” because truthful answers by the juror during jury selection would have resulted in his exclusion from the jury. Prosecutors said the man had made an “honest mistake” and he would have been allowed on the jury regardless.
“The Court further concludes that Juror 50 harbored no bias toward the Defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror. The requirements for a new trial under McDonough are not satisfied,” Nathan justified her decision for denying Maxwell a new shot in a court filing issued today.
Experts say the bar for overturning a verdict based on juror misconduct in general is “very high and only occur in extraordinary circumstances.” “In the rare case where a verdict has been overturned, based on juror misconduct, the misconduct has involved bribery or other outside coercion of that juror,” noted David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor. A recent example is the high-profile trial of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. After his conviction, a juror told the media that several members of the jury had disregarded the court’s instructions and were accessing news coverage of the trial during its course. The Mexican drug lord’s defense team cited the jurors’ misconduct in arguing that his conviction be vacated, but a federal appeals court let it stand.
The British socialite can also still appeal the decision.
The government has said it was ready to dismiss the pending perjury charges against Ghislaine Maxwell if the defendant’s bid for a new trial was denied.
On December 29, 2021, Maxwell, 60, was convicted of recruiting and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 28.
Epstein died by suicide in his prison cell in 2019 while awaiting a federal sex trafficking trial in Manhattan.