Why Ghislaine Maxwell May Not Get Her Retrial

Ghislaine Maxwell's bid for a retrial in her sex trafficking case is "not so easy" to achieve, a lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein victims told Newsweek.

The British socialite was convicted of grooming girls for her former lover to abuse during a high profile New York trial in December 2021. But the case was thrown into turmoil when a juror gave media interviews revealing he was himself a sexual abuse survivor.

Jurors completed a questionnaire which asked whether they had any experience of sexual assault.

Maxwell's legal team have applied for a retrial, suggesting they believe Scotty David, also known as juror 50, did not answer accurately.

Barry Salzman, who represented 20 Epstein victims, told Newsweek an inaccurate answer to the question may not be enough to overturn Maxwell's guilty verdict.

He said: "This juror issue raises some serious concerns about whether she got a fair trial. As much as I'm a victim advocate, I'm certainly very protective of our criminal justice system. The Sixth Amendment gives her the right to an impartial jury so at the very least juror 50's revelations post-trial really do raise some serious concerns.

"That being said, the standard is not so easy to overturn a conviction. The judge has to be pretty convinced that this juror engaged in some sort of intentionally misleading conduct and that is yet to be determined.

"I think what's so significant about this is the juror's revelations not only that he didn't answer the question, that really important relevant question, but really that he was an active voice in advocating for this conviction."

Maxwell's legal team filed a motion for a retrial on January 19 and argued in a past court filing that David "convinced" other jurors to return a guilty verdict.

A defense letter to the court read: "According to the Juror, his disclosure influenced the deliberations and convinced other members of the jury to convict Ms. Maxwell."

Salzman told Newsweek: "If during the inquiry, Judge Nathan finds that it was inadvertent, the failure to answer that question, this conviction is not going to be overturned. There is a bit of a high bar. If this juror assures the court that he was otherwise impartial and he was just riffling through the questions and missed it I think the conviction will stand."

Jury consultant Jill Huntley Taylor, chief executive of Taylor Trial Consulting, previously told Newsweek: "It's not disqualifying to be a victim of sexual abuse. A juror could be on a jury with that experience. They just need to be forthright when asked about it.

"The attorneys know what was in the questionnaire. So, they know whether that juror lied about that or not. In high-profile cases, it's not unusual for there to be some jurors who want to be on that trial and will intentionally hide their biases to get on the jury.

"In jury selection, if I'm on the Maxwell team I want to know if a juror has experience of sexual abuse. If someone reveals that they do, then I want to follow up and determine whether that juror is biased. They would likely try to get that juror off. If a juror intentionally hides that then there is no ability for the team to follow up on the question."

The government is expected to respond to Maxwell's request for a retrial on February 2.

If the defense motion, filed under seal, is successful it would give Maxwell a second chance with a different jury. It would also force the prosecution witnesses to recount their experiences of sexual abuse a second time.

A previous prosecution letter, seen by Newsweek, suggested the process might be traumatic.

Salzman said: "In representing survivors of sexual abuse, its obviously a very, very traumatic experience for them to even speak about it again. So having to relive a retrial can be a very traumatic experience.

"I've counseled in my career 75-year-old men who were abused as young boys who still would cry just in a routine conversation about what happened so I can't even imagine the trauma that these survivors would go through to have to participate again and go through the retrial.

"However, from what I can see I think their resolve is not going to be shaken by this setback, if it does occur. These are very brave, strong women who have obviously come this far and I don't think they're going to back down at this point should Maxwell be retried."

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell
Jeffrey Epstein puts an arm around former lover Ghislaine Maxwell in a photo released as part of her sex trafficking trial. Maxwell was found guilty on five out of six sex trafficking charges. US Department of Justice

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