This race-card pleading from earlier in the week is either a move borne of legal desperation, the weirdest case of cultural appropriation, or both. Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein’s procurer Ghislaine Maxwell want a court to dismiss all charges against her on the basis of racism. The grand jury, they claim, was too white — even though Maxwell is a whiter shade of pale herself:
Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell, the wealthy socialite whose longtime relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to her arrest on charges that she recruited and groomed his victims, are seeking the case’s dismissal on grounds the grand jury chosen to indict her was too White — a move legal experts called valid even though Maxwell is not a minority.
In pretrial motions filed late Monday night, Maxwell’s legal team said the grand jury empaneled last year in suburban Westchester County was improperly seated and lacked diversity — and that Manhattan, where the case is pending in federal court and where there is a higher concentration of minorities, should have been the venue.
“The fact that Ms. Maxwell herself is neither Black nor Hispanic does not deprive of her of standing to raise this challenge,” one of her pretrial motions says.
Valid? Maybe. The chances of a judge actually granting such a motion for a white-as-the-driven-snow wealthy defendant? Surpassingly small. That kind of diversity argument is meant to protect defendants from minority communities from racially motivated indictments and convictions. It’s not intended to benefit wealthy British-French-Czech socialites looking for any excuse to get sprung from prison.
Just how white was the grand jury? It’s not terribly clear, at least from news reports of the pleadings. The argument is that a Manhattan grand jury would have been more diverse, but it doesn’t appear that there’s any information about the specific composition of the grand jury:
The federal court in White Plains, which is located in Westchester County, is part of the Southern District of New York. The district is composed of Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as Westchester, Rockland and several other counties north of New York City.
In using a grand jury from the White Plains court, Maxwell’s lawyers said, prosecutors “excluded residents of the community in which” she will be tried.
Defense lawyers said the grand jury pool of potential jurors in White Plains, which draws from the populations of Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties, has significantly fewer Black and Hispanic people to draw on than the Manhattan federal court grand jury pool. The Manhattan pool draws from those three counties as well as Manhattan and the Bronx.
Given the victimology of Epstein’s predatory behavior, one might speculate that a grand jury from the Bronx might have been even tougher on Maxwell. She hasn’t been accused procuring rich girls from Manhattan’s upper crust, after all, but underaged, at-risk girls from broken homes.
The argument itself is absurd on its face, unless Maxwell wants to pull a Rachel Dolezal and tell everyone that she now identifies as a woman of color. After seeing the chutzpah in this pleading, don’t be surprised if that’s not her next legal move.