Ghislaine Maxwell demands judge drop ‘mishmash’ case against her, arguing grand jury pool was too white

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Oliver O'Connell
·3 min read
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Audrey Strauss, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a news conference announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell  (REUTERS)
Audrey Strauss, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a news conference announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell (REUTERS)

Lawyers for socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of sex-trafficking on behalf of the late Jeffrey Epstein, are asking for her case to be thrown out on the grounds that it is a vague “mishmash” and that the grand jury reviewing her case was not representative enough.

Ms Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 having been accused of both providing Epstein with underage girls to abuse, as well as allegedly participating in the abuse. She is currently detained in a New York City jail. She has denied all the allegations against her.

In court documents filed late on Monday outlining reasons why their client’s charges should be dismissed, Ms Maxwell’s legal advisers said that the case against her does not identify an accuser, nor a date on which a crime is alleged to have been committed.

The defence team argues that the government indictment against their client was constructed in such a way that Ms Maxwell did not have sufficient information to investigate the allegations against her and adequately prepare for trial.

If the court does not dismiss the charges against her, then the prosecution should be forced to provide a “bill of particulars” that details the alleged crimes.

“Ms Maxwell is innocent and should not have to guess about what evidence the government claims warrants her continual incarceration but stubbornly refuses to identify or disclose,” her legal team argues.

Further to the complaint of vague allegations, Ms Maxwell’s lawyers also argue that her indictment by a grand jury in the Southern District of New York’s White Plains division ahead of her 2 July arrest was also unfair.

The coronavirus pandemic had limited the operations of grand jury proceedings in Manhattan, and so an alternative venue was sought north of the city in suburban New York. Ms Maxwell’s team argues that jurors did not represent a fair cross-section of the community, a right guaranteed by the sixth amendment, as Black and Hispanic people were underrepresented in the predominantly white locale.

“The fact that Ms Maxwell herself is neither Black nor Hispanic does not deprive her of standing to raise this challenge,” her lawyers wrote.

In addition to that claim, the defence team says that a non-prosecution deal agreed between Epstein and the federal government in 2008 should also shield Ms Maxwell. Epstein pleaded guilty to Florida state charges and registered as a sex offender there as part of the deal.

His lawyers had planned to argue the fact in defence of their client before he killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019. Prosecutors maintain they could proceed with the charges against Epstein and others involved in the sex-trafficking scheme regardless of that deal.

Ms Maxwell was detained by authorities on 2 July 2020 and has remained in custody due to fears she may flee the country.

She has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against her. The trial is set for July this year. Her lawyers have said that they would like the number of charges against her reduced if their bid for dismissal is denied.

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