Politics

Jeffrey Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell teams up with feds in bid to keep proposed jury questionnaire secret in sex crime case

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Key Points
  • Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of acting as a procurer of underage girls for her friend Jeffrey Epstein's criminal sexual activities, and prosecutors want a proposed questionnaire for potential jurors sealed from public view before her upcoming trial.
  • Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, died in jail from suicide while awaiting trial
  • Maxwell, a British socialite, is due to go on trial in November.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend Batman Forever/R. McDonald Event on June 13, 1995 in New York City.
Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell and federal prosecutors have temporarily teamed up to ask a judge to keep a proposed questionnaire for potential jurors sealed from public view before Maxwell's upcoming trial.

Maxwell is the British socialite accused of acting as a procurer of underage girls to be sexually abused by her friend Jeffrey Epstein.

Prosecutors, in a letter to the judge filed in court late Tuesday evening, said Maxwell's lawyers want the written questionnaire and proposed series of oral questions for would-be jurors kept secret "to avoid media coverage that may prejudice the jury selection process."

"The Government consents to the defense's request," prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York wrote to Manhattan federal Judge Alison Nathan, who is due to preside over Maxwell's trial next month.

In the same letter, prosecutors noted that the submission of proposed jury questions includes notations of objections Maxwell's lawyers and prosecutors have with particular questions suggested by either party.

Jury questionnaires as a rule include queries about whether a potential juror has prior knowledge of a criminal case, from news articles or other sources, whether they know people connected to the case, and whether they or people they know have been victims of crimes.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office, declined to comment on the letter. A lawyer for Maxwell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell appears during her arraignment hearing on a new indictment at Manhattan Federal Court in New York, April 23, 2021, in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

Both Epstein's and Maxwell's criminal cases have received an enormous amount of media attention since July 2019, when Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was arrested on child sex trafficking charges.

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NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

She has pleaded not guilty in the case, and has been held without bail in a Brooklyn federal jail since last year pending trial. Her trial next month will deal only with the sex-related charges. She will be tried at a later date for the perjury case.

In another letter to Nathan filed Tuesday, prosecutors said their "conservative" estimate is that they will rest their case against Maxwell within four weeks from the start of the trial next month, but that they could rest "as early as the third week of trial" provided that cross-examination of witnesses by defense lawyers are not overly long.

Maxwell's lawyers, according to the same letter, estimate their case will last about two weeks. But that could change after defense attorneys review the prosecutors' witness and exhibit lists.

Both sides are asking Nathan to seat jurors for the trial who are available "beyond the Christmas holiday," the letter said.