A panel of appeals judges directed the disgraced socialite to take up her allegations of mistreatment during her pretrial detention with the district court.
MANHATTAN (CN) — Ghislaine Maxwell will remain in a Brooklyn jail facility ahead of her July sex trafficking trial, the Second Circuit ruled Tuesday in a rejection of the British socialite’s bid to be released on bail.
“Upon due consideration, it is hereby ordered that the district court’s orders are affirmed and that appellant’s [Maxwell’s] motion for bail, or in the alternative, temporary pretrial release … is denied,” a three-judge panel wrote in a single-page order Tuesday.
The appellate court was not moved by the prospect that Maxwell’s sleep is being disturbed by jail staff on a nightly basis, as argued Monday by Maxwell’s attorney, David Oscar Markus.
“During oral argument, counsel for appellant expressed concern that [she] was improperly being deprived of sleep while incarcerated,” the Second Circuit panel wrote. “To the extent appellant seeks relief specific to her sleeping conditions, such request should be addressed to the district court.”
During Monday’s 25-minute remote teleconference, Markus told the appeals panel that Maxwell has been mislabeled a suicide risk on account of Jeffrey Epstein’s 2019 jailhouse suicide. Markus said that jail staff are keeping Maxwell up through every night by shining flashlights at her, ostensibly to verify her health.
“For example, she’s kept up at night every 15 minutes with lights shined in her eyes so that they can check her breathing,” said Markus, a Miami-based criminal defense attorney, during the hearing Monday. “She’s not suicidal. There’s no evidence that she’s suicidal. Why is the Bureau of Prisons doing this? They’re doing this because Jeffrey Epstein died on their watch.”
The 59-year-old Briton faces eight criminal counts in the Southern District of New York, including allegations that she groomed teenage victims as young as 14 years old for sexual abuse by Epstein.
On Tuesday, the Second Circuit directed Maxwell’s counsel to consult with U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan for specific relief regarding the Bureau of Prison’s practice of waking her up every 15 minutes.
At Monday’s hearing, U.S. Circuit Judge Pierre Leval suggested that a neutral, independent psychiatric review at Maxwell’s expense could be ordered by the court to assess whether or not she is suicidal.
“If she’s not, then things like shining a flashlight in her eyes every 15 minutes during that night perhaps would not be done, at the court’s direction,” Leval said Monday.
Judge Nathan has repeatedly denied Maxwell’s requests in the district court for release on bail, finding that Maxwell still poses a flight risk even though she offered to renounce her French and British citizenship and proposed to have her money placed into an account that would be monitored by a retired judge.
Appealing two of those district court denials to the Second Circuit, Maxwell’s attorneys alleged that the mistreatment at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center has deprived Maxwell of a fair opportunity to prepare for her July 2021 trial.
“For over 280 days, she has been held in the equivalent of solitary confinement, in deteriorating health and mental condition from lack of sleep because she is intentionally awakened every 15 minutes by lights shined directly into her small cell, inadequate food, the constant glare of neon light, and intrusive searches, including having hands forced into her mouth in a squalid facility where COVID has run rampant,” Markus wrote in an April 1 appeals filing.
“In any other case, she would have been released long ago,” Maxwell’s attorney’s wrote. “But because of the ‘Epstein effect,’ she is being detained and in truly unacceptable conditions.”
The disgraced socialite’s trial for six counts related to sex trafficking is set to begin on July 12, but her attorneys seek to postpone the proceedings because of the newly added counts. At last Friday’s arraignment hearing, Maxwell pleaded not guilty to two new criminal counts of sex-trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking a minor. Two counts of perjury have been severed to a separate trial.
Maxwell’s counsel did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday afternoon.