Ghislaine Maxwell argues jurors were not diverse enough as she seeks dismissal of charges

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Rozina Sabur
·3 min read
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Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell say the indictment against their client was obtained unjustly - Reuters
Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell say the indictment against their client was obtained unjustly - Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyers have complained the grand jury who indicted her on child sex trafficking charges did not contain enough black or Hispanic jurors, in one of a series of court filings attempting to have her case dismissed.

Ms Maxwell, 59, was arrested last July and is being held in a New York City jail while awaiting trial on charges that she recruited underage girls in the 1990s for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.

The British socialite's legal team argued that prosecutors used the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to seat the grand jury outside New York City, when the pandemic was killing thousands of residents.

Instead, a panel was convened in White Plains, an affluent suburb of New York, where the lawyers argued Black and Hispanic grand jurors would have been underrepresented.

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

Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein in 2005 - Patrick McMullan /Getty
Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein in 2005 - Patrick McMullan /Getty

It was one of 12 separate arguments filed in district court in Manhattan on Monday attacking the indictment and attempting to dismiss elements of the case against Ms Maxwell.

Ms Maxwell's lawyers also argued that a 2007 plea deal Epstein struck with the federal government should shield her from prosecution too.

The agreement sought to protect Epstein and those around him, but Ms Maxwell was not identified by name in the agreement, in which Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of procuring a minor for prostitution in Florida.

Manhattan federal prosecutors maintained they could charge Epstein or those who worked for him regardless. Epstein killed himself in 2019 while in prison awaiting trial on fresh sex trafficking charges.

In a separate filing, Ms Maxwell's representatives argued that four counts in the indictment should be dropped because they do not accuse her of crimes specific enough to bring before a jury.

Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited three teenage girls, including a 14-year-old, for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 1997. The indictment alleged she sometimes joined in the abuse.

The lawyers also asked that Maxwell be tried separately on charges that she committed perjury when she testified in a civil case brought by Virgina Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers.

They argued prosecutors were using those charges improperly as a way to introduce evidence from after the 1990s.

Prosecutors in the case are expected to file arguments in response within the next few weeks.

Ms Maxwell's trial is currently scheduled for July. She has had two bail applications rejected after a judge ruled she remained a "flight risk", despite herself and her family pledging almost $30 million in bail.

In a separate filing to the court on Monday, the Brooklyn Prison Ms Maxwell is being held in argued that a recent court provision allowing her to use a laptop for 13 hours a day, five days a week to review documents relating to her case.

The Bureau of Prisons argued that her lawyers' claim that she lacked the time to fully review her discovery was undercut by "her consistent use" of the government laptop and prison computers.

"Moreover, Ms Maxwell continues to have contact with her legal counsel five days per week, three hours per day via video-teleconference and via telephone; this is far more time than any other MDC inmate is allotted to communicate with their attorneys," officials noted.

Prison officials asked that Ms Maxwell's laptop access was returned to the original limit of 7am to 8pm on weekdays.