Ghislaine Maxwell will not get a new trial after judge finds juror was not biased

Author: CBS NEWS
In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, left, pulls down her mask to talk to one of her lawyers, Jeffrey Pagliuca, during Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

A judge denied Ghislaine Maxwell’s request for a new trial, rejecting her claim of juror bias. Maxwell filed the motion in January after a man who served on the jury that convicted her of sex trafficking late last year revealed he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, which he had not disclosed in jury selection.

“In sum, the Court concludes that the evidence in the record does not support finding that Juror 50 was biased,” U.S. Circuit Judge Alison J. Nathan wrote Friday. “Juror 50’s sworn testimony did not reveal actual partiality. And Juror 50 was not impliedly or inferably biased.”

Nathan said the man was distracted while answering the jury questionnaire, and was “neither a victim nor otherwise involved in the actual crimes. Nor does he have any sort of relationship with any of the parties or case participants.”

The juror had earlier told the judge he “skimmed way too fast” through the questionnaire and did not intentionally give the wrong answer to a question about sex abuse.

“I didn’t lie in order to get on this jury,” he said.

“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” the judge wrote. “The Court further concludes that Juror 50 harbored no bias toward the Defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.”

Maxwell, a British socialite, was convicted in December of helping the millionaire Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse several teenage girls. Epstein died in what was ruled a suicide in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019.

Maxwell’s sentencing is scheduled for June 28, the judge wrote Friday.

In a letter to Nathan in January, Maxwell’s lawyers said that “based on undisputed, publicly available information, the Court can and should order a new trial without any evidentiary hearing.”

In return, the judge set a schedule for the defense to ask for a new trial, saying it should make the request by January 19, with prosecutors replying by February 2. She asked them to address whether “an inquiry of some kind” is permitted or required. Nathan also said she would offer a court-appointed lawyer for the juror.

The judge’s order came after defense lawyers said Maxwell “intends to request a new trial” with a submission that would include all known undisputed remarks of the juror, along with recorded statements and the questionnaire all jurors filled out.

“It is clear to Ms. Maxwell that based on this record alone a new trial is required,” they said at the time, urging that all trial jurors be examined to evaluate their conduct if a hearing occurs.

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