James Comey's daughter vs Bin Laden aide's lawyer as legal teams line up in Maxwell trial

·3 min read
It has been dubbed the 'trial of the century' - Elizabeth Williams/Elizabeth Williams
It has been dubbed the 'trial of the century' - Elizabeth Williams/Elizabeth Williams

The daughter of a former FBI director and a lawyer who defended Osama Bin Laden's spokesman are among the crack legal teams assembled for Ghislaine Maxwell's trial.

Maurene Comey, daughter of former FBI director James Comey, is one of three experienced federal prosecutors leading the criminal case against Ms Maxwell.

The 32-year-old, Harvard-educated lawyer heads up the Violent and Organised Crime unit in the southern district of New York (SDNY).

The SDNY is regarded as the most prestigious prosecutor's office in the country, and was previously led by Ms Comey's father.

James Comey led the FBI during contentious investigations into Hillary Clinton's emails and the Trump campaign's links with Russia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, center, daughter of former FBI Director James Comey, - Richard Drew/AP
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, center, daughter of former FBI Director James Comey, - Richard Drew/AP

He was famously fired by Donald Trump less than halfway through his 10-year term.

His daughter Maurene has avoided the national spotlight but is no stranger to intense press scrutiny, having prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including a prominent former gynaecologist accused of assaulting dozens of patients.

She had been prosecuting Ms Maxwell's former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein before his 2019 death, along with the other lead prosecutors Alex Rossmiller and Alison Moe.

Mr Rosmiller previously worked as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Defense and works in the public corruption unit of the SDNY.

Ms Moe previously pursued fraud charges against former Trump campaign aide Steve Bannon.

Ghislaine Maxwell sits with her defense lawyers at the start of her trial on charges of sex trafficking - Jane Rosenberg/Reuters
Ghislaine Maxwell sits with her defense lawyers at the start of her trial on charges of sex trafficking - Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Meanwhile Ms Maxwell has set aside $7m for her defence, composed of a formidable team of lawyers.

Among them is the "super lawyer" Bobbi Sternheim, who has defended the alleged accomplices of notorious figures.

She once represented Khaled al-Fawwaz, a spokesman and top aide to Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin.

The Saudi national was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for aiding the bombing of US embassies in east Africa.

Ms Sternheim has also reprsented Minh Quang Pham, a Vietnamese-born Al Qaeda supproter who was involved in a bomb plot on Heathrow airport.

Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim, - Bebeto Matthews/AP
Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim, - Bebeto Matthews/AP

Another member of Ms Maxwell's defence team is David Markus, a Harvard-educated lawyer who boasts of being "one of few lawyers that can do it all".

Top former prosecutors are also on Ms Maxwell's team. They include Christian Everdell, who will be well-versed in the SDNY's approach to the prosecution having worked in the unit for almost a decade.

While there, he helped convict the infamous drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman.

The others are Mark Cohen, a former prosecutor who has become a top white collar defence lawyer, and Colorado-based lawyers Jeffrey Pagliuca and Laura Menninger.

Ms Menninger also represented Ms Maxwell in a 2015 defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Presiding over the case is Judge Alison Nathan, 49, who was nominated to the court by Barack Obama in 2011.

She presided over the US Securities and Exchange Commission's suit against Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk, which ended in the billionaire agreeing to new vetting rules over his use of Twitter.

Ms Nathan, 49, has longstanding ties to the Democratic Party. She previously worked on John Kerry's presidential campaign as well as working in the Obama administration.

Joe Biden recently nominated Ms Nathan to the US Court of Appeals, following the recommendation of New York senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader.

Mr Schumer praised her “experience, legal brilliance, love of the rule of law and perspective”.

If confirmed, she would be only the second openly gay woman to serve on any federal circuit court.

Ms Nathan has pledged to continue overseeing Ms Maxwell's case in that event.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting