If you thought that the entire, tawdry saga of Ghislaine Maxwell was finally behind us, you may need to reset your expectations. If a judge agrees with a request filed this week by Maxwell’s attorneys, the entire circus may be gearing up to start over from scratch. The defense has asked for a new trial based on revelations made to the media by one of the jurors who may have lied about his personal history with sexual abuse. Based on the descriptions that Scotty David (first and middle names) gave to reporters after the close of the trial, he may have done more than conceal his own past, significantly influencing the other jurors during deliberations. But we already have a number of guilty verdicts that were accepted by the court. Can they technically declare a mistrial at this stage? (NY Post)
The legal team for Ghislaine Maxwell formally requested a retrial on her sex crimes conviction Wednesday after it was revealed that a juror failed to disclose their childhood sexual abuse during jury selection.
Maxwell’s lawyers filed a motion just after she was convicted on five counts of sex trafficking and other crimes for grooming teenagers to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein…
Maxwell’s conviction was thrown into chaos last week after a juror revealed to several media outlets that he is a childhood sex abuse survivor.
The judge is going to need to be digging into some information that the public doesn’t have access to in order to make a decision here. The first question is whether or not the juror lied when filling out the jury questionnaire. The Post previously obtained a copy of the form that all prospective jurors were given and it’s pretty unambiguous. One of the 51 questions was phrased as follows:
Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault? (This includes actual or attempted sexual assault or other unwanted sexual advance, including by a stranger, acquaintance, supervisor, teacher, or family member.)
Scotty David told reporters that he didn’t remember the specific questions that he “flew through” when filling the form out, but believes that he would have answered “yes” to that question. If he did and the defense seated him anyway during voir dire, then they are the ones that messed up and the judge may not want to give them a new trial because of this. If he answered “no” to that question and is found to have lied, the defense’s chances may look better. The forms submitted by all of the prospective juror are locked up, but the judge should be able to access them as part of this process.
Assuming that the story the juror told to reporters is true, his personal experiences may have affected more than his own vote. He described how some jurors were questioning aspects of the testimony of the witnesses during deliberations. He claims that they “fell silent” while he recounted his own history of abuse, how he “couldn’t remember” all of the details years later, and why he waited so long to come forward and tell his story. That certainly sounds like a turning point in the deliberations.
Asking for a “new trial” after the original trial is in the books isn’t exactly the same as having the judge declare a mistrial, but the end result is the same. If it can be persuasively shown that one or more jurors were deceitful (either intentionally or inadvertently) when filling out their questionnaire, the judge may just toss the whole thing out and send everyone back to square one. Of course, had Maxwell been acquitted on all charges, it might not matter because a new trial would likely be impossible because of double jeopardy rules.
There’s another twist in the story that might be in play here. We already learned that Maxwell has relented and will no longer seek to shield the names of the eight Johns listed in a separate lawsuit. That was a major sticking point for prosecutors in her own criminal trial. If the judge decides to start over, might the prosecutors agree to some sort of favorable plea deal next time if Maxwell is now cooperating with them on going after the Johns? If so, the court might not even have to impanel a jury and the matter could be resolved quickly.