GHISLIANE Maxwell’s legal team have called for a mistrial after two jurors revealed that they had not disclosed the fact that they were themselves sex abuse survivors – a disclosure that would have had the pair dismissed before the trial for potential bias.
It is standard procedure for juries to be selected through a process that enables both sides of courtroom to root out jury candidates who may display a lack of impartiality throughout the trial and when deciding the verdict.
Along with criminal background checks, the defence and prosecution ask each candidate a set of questions, e.g. “Have you ever met Jeffrey Epstein?”, “Do you know any of the witnesses?” “What do you know about Ghislaine Maxwell?” “What have you read in the news?”, and “have you or a close family member been a victim of any of the crimes covered in the upcoming trial?”
Jurors are grilled because jurors must be impartial. They are then, once again under oath, asked to disclose anything that might impact their impartiality in the trial.
More importantly in this case, on a legal questionnaire, and under oath, each juror answers question 48: “Have you or a family member ever been a victim of sexual abuse?”
To this question, jury member Scotty David (who has asked to be referred to in the press by her first and middle name) answered ‘no’. As did another juror who wishes to remain anonymous.
Both told the press that they didn’t disclose their potential bias until the deliberations began, and only to fellow jury members – with both now coming forward to admit that they used their own personal experiences of being sex abuse victims to ‘guide them’ through the trial.
In an interview with The Independent Scotty David said he’d used his experience to influence the jury when they began to rightly question the contradictions in the four accuser’s testimonies, and waited to reveal his past until that moment, saying that the ‘jury room went dead silent’ as he shared his story.
Scotty also says he believes he persuaded fellow jurors to not question the accusers at all – to instantly believe them, thus creating significant bias and rendering the accused, i.e. Maxwell, automatically guilty regardless of any evidence or lack thereof; despite Maxwell’s legal right to the presumption of innocence.
“We are not here to judge these victims,” he told The Independent. “We are here to judge whether we believe their stories, but we are not here to judge the decisions they made or didn’t make.”
Further, Scotty told the Daily Mail that the accuser’s claims were ‘corroborated by a significant amount of evidence’, despite this being generally accepted not to have been the case, and specifically mentioned witness ‘Kate’ as an example – despite jurors being told they weren’t allowed to consider Kate’s testimony as evidence because she was over the age of consent at the time she alleges the events to have taken place.
In interviews given by the second juror, they also stated they believed sharing their own sex abuse stories to the other jurors helped lead uncertain jurors towards a conviction.
A mistrial has now been demanded by Ghislaine Maxwell’s legal team, and the US Attorney General has already ordered an urgent investigation, as the US prosecution scramble to prevent a mistrial.
Quoting the law, Maxwell’s team wrote to Judge Alison Nathan, who presided over the trial:
‘The Supreme Court has held that to be entitled to a new trial, ‘a party must first demonstrate that a juror failed to answer honestly a material question on voir dire, and then further show that a correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause.’
A challenge for cause is when a potential juror is dismissed as they are deemed incapable of serving or being impartial.
‘This standard applies even if the juror’s conduct was merely inadvertent and not intentional.’
‘Ms. Maxwell Intends to request a new trial under Rule 33 because the ‘interest of justice to requires.’
We will update in due course.