Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-Epstein Partner Maligns Prosecution in Overnight Flurry of Filings

In a bid to chip away at her six-count criminal indictment, Ghislaine Maxwell lambasted the government’s case on grounds of vagueness and double jeopardy.

In a bid to chip away at her six-count criminal indictment, Ghislaine Maxwell lambasted the government’s case on grounds of vagueness and double jeopardy.  

In this July 2, 2020, file photo, Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) — Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, nearly a year to the day that sex-trafficking charges landed her longtime associate Jeffrey Epstein, with whom she was once romantically linked, in the jail cell where he would be found dead one month later.  

Attacking that case Monday night in a series of court filings, defense lawyers accuse the government of obtaining Maxwell’s grand jury indictment in suburban White Plains, rather than in New York City, in a rush to bring Maxwell in on the anniversary of Epstein’s arrest. 

“Had the government waited [on a Manhattan grand jury], it might have been unable to meet its arbitrary July 2 deadline, and its press conference touting the indictment and arrest of Ms. Maxwell might have had slightly less impact,” Jeffrey Pagliuca from Denver firm Haddon Morgan wrote in one filing. “But the government would have avoided violating Ms. Maxwell’s Sixth Amendment right. Its failure to do so mandates dismissal of the indictment.” 

In drawing their grand jury from the White Plains pool of jurors, Pagliuca says the government procured Maxwell’s July 2020 indictment from a pool that excluded residents of the community in which she allegedly committed the sex-trafficking offenses, and in which she will be tried, in favor of a grand jury drawn from a community in which Black and Hispanic residents are significantly underrepresented by comparison. 

The so-called Manhattan master wheel used to select grand jury pool includes names of residents drawn from Manhattan and the Bronx, along with Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties.  

But the pool used by the White Plains district contains names from the primarily white counties outside of New York City: Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan and Dutchess. 

None of the alleged crimes Maxwell is charged alleged any unlawful conduct in the White Plains Division, Maxwell’s attorneys note. 

“To the contrary, the only specific location within this district that is referenced in the indictment is Epstein’s residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the location at which Ms. Maxwell allegedly intended for Minor Victim-1 to engage in unlawful sexual activity with Epstein,” the filing states. 

In another filing, Maxwell seeks to have one of the sex trafficking counts dismissed as a multiplicitous violation of double jeopardy laws. 

She says the first count of the government’s indictment — enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity — shares the identical overt acts alleged, geographic scope, alleged co-conspirators, time period of the alleged conspiracies (1994 to 1997) as count three — transporting minors with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.  

“The object of both, as claimed by the government, is to first entice and then to transport minors across state lines for the purpose of illegal sexual activity,” the filing states. “If the conspiracy to entice fails there would, logically, be no one to transport." 

Elsewhere, Maxwell attacked counts one through four on specificity grounds, saying the indictment is worded to make “the time frame alleged limitless and meaningless for application of the statute of limitations or any defense.” 

“The superseding indictment in this case is remarkable because it fails to identify an accuser, a specific date that Ms. Maxwell is alleged to have committed a crime, or when anything in furtherance of any alleged conspiracy occurred,” Pagliuca writes in this motion.

“The only dates contained in the indictment are the years 1994-1997, often combined with phrases such as ‘from at least in or about’ and ‘beginning in at least.’ This mishmash of a pleading was carefully crafted to not provide Ms. Maxwell with the necessary information to adequately investigate these false allegations and prepare for trial.”  

Maxwell’s attorney also seek severance and a separate trial of the two perjury counts of the superseding indictment, in which the government claims Maxwell lied to conceal the alleged offenses in two 2016 depositions taken in connection with a civil defamation suit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. 

“By alleging that Ms. Maxwell lied about sexual and other salacious topics, the government is explicitly putting its very big thumb on the credibility scale,” her attorneys wrote. 

Maxwell's attorneys argue the statements at issue are not perjurious because the questions asked were "confusing, ambiguous, and improperly formed."

Portions of depositions including the alleged perjury were unsealed in a dump of case materials last October that Maxwell had fought bitterly to keep under wraps. 

Maxwell’s attorneys claim the inclusion of those two perjury counts will taint the case because it would allow the government to introduce testimony of alleged sexual abuse that purportedly occurred outside of the narrow time period alleged in counts one through four (1994-1997), which they say the government specifically chose to try to avoid the impact of Epstein’s 2007 Non-Prosecution Agreement, in which federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue a case against him if he pleaded guilty to state charges. 

A month ago, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan backed the government’s portrayal of Maxwell as a flight risk and refused her bid to be released from pretrial detention at Brooklyn’s MDC jail due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Maxwell is appealing that decision, which pending before the Second Circuit. 

The 59-year-old British heiress and socialite denies the charges, which if proven carry a possible sentence of 35 years.

The Epstein scandal has implicated a number of high-profile and rich individuals — including Prince Andrew and Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz — with having had sex with underage victims at Epstein’s private island and other properties.  

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a child for prostitution but was given leniency from prosecutors.  

After new evidence came forth alleging that the financier had paid underage girls for massages, then molested and raped them, he was arrested again in July 2019. Officials ruled his jail cell death the next month a suicide.  

Follow @jruss_jruss
Categories / Criminal, Entertainment

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.