MANHATTAN (CN) — Skewering Ghislaine Maxwell’s “eleventh-hour” request to block the release of her deposition, a federal judge on Wednesday found little substance to the jailed socialite’s claim that her criminal case provides a new reason for secrecy.
“This is plowed ground,” U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska wrote in a 6-page ruling Wednesday afternoon.
“Indeed, in her original objection to unsealing, Ms. Maxwell argued that the specter of ongoing criminal investigations into unknown individuals associated with Jeffrey Epstein — a group that, of course, includes Ms. Maxwell — loomed large over the court-ordered unsealing process,” the judge added.
Earlier in the day, Maxwell tried to block the release of her deposition on Thursday by claiming that federal prosecutors wrongly divulged passages from it in her indictment, which quoted her testimony in support of two perjury charges.
“Ms. Maxwell’s two deposition transcripts were designated ‘Confidential’ and subject to the protection of the protective order,” Ty Gee, an attorney for the jailed socialite, wrote in a 9-page letter. “Both transcripts ended up in the hands of the government, which used them to bring an indictment against Ms. Maxwell, charging her with, among other things, perjury in her deposition testimony. This is a serious violation of the protective order and merits the commencement of contempt proceedings.”
Originally ordering the release of at least one of those transcripts on Thursday, Judge Preska allowed the deposition’s release to be delayed one more day to allow Maxwell to petition the Second Circuit.
Now asking Preska to keep the deposition under wraps, however, Maxwell’s attorneys at the firm Haddon, Morgan and Foreman want an inquiry into whether Virginia Giuffre is the government’s source. In a 2015 defamation suit, Giuffre accused Maxwell of grooming her to become Jeffrey Epstein’s “sex slave.”
The Southern District of New York and Giuffre’s attorney Brad Edwards did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.
Prosecutors quoted multiple passages of Maxwell’s depositions from April and July 2016 in their indictment, claiming that she falsely denied participating in a sex-trafficking scheme and participating in any abuse.
Maxwell claims only Giuffre could have tipped off the government to the existence of these passages.
“Only two parties — [Giuffre] and Ms. Maxwell — and their counsel had proper access to the transcripts of Ms. Maxwell’s deposition,” Wednesday’s letter states. “The transcripts, which were designated ‘Confidential,’ were the subject of the protective order strictly limiting the persons to whom the parties may disclose ‘Confidential’-designated documents.”
In this afternoon’s ruling, Preska did not comment on Maxwell’s allegations that the government and Giuffre violated the protective order.
Law enforcement typically has the ability to request such documents, but Maxwell claims that she and Giuffre expressly removed a clause that would have created such an exception.
“This language was rejected by Ms. Maxwell because of her concerns that [Giuffre] and her lawyers were acting as either express or de facto agents of the government,” the letter states. “The language agreed upon, and made an order of this court, specifically excluded an exception for law enforcement.”
Maxwell pleaded not guilty earlier this month at a hearing where she was denied bail. Her trial has been scheduled for July 2021, a year to this month.
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