British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has asked a judge to dismiss her criminal child sex case, saying a controversial plea agreement by the late child predator Jeffrey Epstein bars her from being prosecuted in federal court on the charges.
In a flurry of court filings late Monday, Maxwell also requested two separate trials for charges that she faces in Manhattan federal court.
Her lawyers argued that the indictment against her is flawed because it was issued by a grand jury pulled from a demographic pool that contained fewer Blacks and Hispanics than the pool of potential jurors for her trial, which is due to begin in Manhattan this summer.
In the meantime, the case's judge got pushback from Bureau of Prison officials on her recent order that Maxwell be allowed access to a laptop computer in Brooklyn federal jail on the weekends so that she can fully prepare for her trial.
Prison officials want Judge Alison Nathan to reconsider her order. A prison staff attorney wrote in a letter that Maxwell gets enough time — 13 hours a day, five days per week — to review documents on her laptop.
They also said she gets "far more time" than other inmates — three hours per day, five days per week — to speak with her lawyers via videoconference.
Nathan on Monday asked Maxwell's lawyer and prosecutors to respond to the missive.
Maxwell, 59, was arrested in July.
She is charged in a six-count indictment with helping Epstein in the mid-1990s recruit and groom underage girls, at least one as young as 14 years old, so that he could sexually abuse them at his residences in New York, Florida and New Mexico, as well as at her home in London.
"In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims," the indictment alleges.
She also is charged with perjuring herself by lying about her conduct during a deposition for a lawsuit filed by one of Epstein's many accusers.
Epstein, 66, died in August 2019 from what has been officially ruled a suicide by hanging in the Manhattan federal jail where he was being detained without bail.
Potentially the most significant motion that Maxwell's lawyers filed Monday relates to the tangled history of Epstein's cases.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges that included procuring a girl under the age of 18 for prostitution. He served 13 months in jail in that case and was required to register as a sex offender.
Epstein's plea came after he reached a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney's office in South Florida, which said it would not charge him with federal crimes related to abuse of underage girls if he pleaded guilty to the state charges.
The deal included an agreement that four named co-conspirators of Epstein would not be federally prosecuted, as well as "any potential co-conspirators." None of the alleged victims in the case was told about the deal by prosecutors at the time.
When he was arrested in 2019, Epstein's lawyers argued that the non-prosecution deal from federal authorities would bar him from being charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York for alleged sex trafficking of girls from 2002 through 2005.
But SDNY prosecutors disputed that claim, which was unresolved by a judge at the time that Epstein died.
In a motion filed Monday night, Maxwell's lawyer says the case against her, which likewise is filed by SDNY prosecutors, should be tossed out because she is included in Epstein's non-prosecution deal.
The details of their argument is sealed, for now, because it contains information that may need to be redacted from the public court record.
Prosecutors previously have said in court that Maxwell is not covered by the non-prosecution deal.
In another motion, to sever her case into two trials, Maxwell asked for a trial on the perjury charges she faces separate from the charges which relate to allegedly grooming victims for Epstein.
Maxwell is charged with perjury for allegedly lying under oath during depositions for a lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre, who has accused both Epstein and Maxwell of abuse, is not one of the accusers related to the sex-crime charges that Maxwell faces in federal court.
Defense lawyers argued that allowing the perjury charges to be tried with the sex-crime charges raises the risk that Maxwell would be convicted for perjury by a jury based on "an improper inference" that she has a propensity to act criminally.
In another filing, lawyers ask Nathan to dismiss the first four charges in the indictment, which relate to sexual abuse, not to lying about it.
Lawyers said the indictment "fails to identify an accuser, a specific date that Ms. Maxwell is alleged to have committed a crime, or when anything in furtherance of any alleged conspiracy [with Epstein] occurred."
"This mishmash of a pleading was carefully crafted to not provide Ms. Maxwell with the necessary information to adequately investigate these false allegations and prepare for trial," the filing said.
"Ms. Maxwell is innocent and should not have to guess about what evidence the Government claims warrants her continual incarceration but stubbornly refuses to identify or disclose."
In another filing, Maxwell's lawyer argued that the entire case should be tossed out because her Sixth Amendment rights to be charged "by a grand jury drawn from a fair cross section of the community" were violated by the U.S. Attorney's office in an effort to make sure she was indicted on the anniversary of Epstein's own indictment on child sex trafficking charges.
The filing said that because of Covid-19 issues limiting the availability of grand juries in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors, in their "apparent determination to mark the anniversary of its indictment of Jeffrey Epstein" obtained an indictment of Maxwell through a grand jury drawn from a division of the court system based in White Plains, New York.
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.
Maxwell is White.
Federal prosecutors will respond to Maxwell's motions at a later date.