By Sonia Moghe and Kara Scannell, CNN
Defense attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell said the convicted sex trafficker should get a new trial after a juror said in media interviews that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, court documents show.
Prosecutors also asked Judge Alison Nathan to bring the juror back to question him about the comments.
In a letter Wednesday, prosecutors wrote that some of his statements to media outlets “merit attention by the court” and requested that any juror investigation be conducted “exclusively under the supervision of the Court.”
The juror’s comments came during interviews he gave following the trial, which saw Maxwell convicted last month on five federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.
A former close associate of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison. Her attorneys previously said they plan to appeal the convictions.
In a partially redacted filing Wednesday, defense attorneys said a portion that was redacted “presents incontrovertible grounds for a new trial.”
“Should the defense prevail on this motion — and we believe the law and facts are clearly on our side — it would render all other post-trial motions moot,” defense attorney Christian Everdell wrote. “Ms. Maxwell should not have to expend precious time and resources briefing other motions when this motion can and should be dispositive.”
Juror said his revelation swayed some of the jurors
The juror has given interviews to The Independent, Daily Mail and Reuters as Scotty David, his first and middle name, where he discussed being a victim of sexual abuse as a child, and how he shared his experience with his fellow jurors during deliberations.
David told Reuters that some jurors had issues with the memories of two accusers who took the stand testifying only as Jane and Carolyn.
David decided to share his own experience of being sexually abused as a child with his fellow jurors, explaining to them that he remembered the most important elements of what happened to him but not every single detail. David told Reuters the information swayed some of the jurors’ opinions on Jane and Carolyn’s testimony.
David gave his first interview to The Independent.
“When I shared that, they were able to sort of come around on, they were able to come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse,” David said in his Reuters interview.
Judge Alison Nathan said late Wednesday she has not yet decided whether questioning the juror is warranted, but she set a briefing schedule for Maxwell’s attorneys to file motions for a new trial in light of the development. She also agreed to the prosecutors’ request to appoint a lawyer for the juror.
Defense says ‘a new trial is required’
Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca and others wrote in a separate defense filing that prosecutors’ request for a hearing is “premature because based on undisputed, publicly available information, the Court can and should order a new trial without any evidentiary hearing.”
“It is clear to Ms. Maxwell that based on this record alone a new trial is required,” Pagliuca wrote, arguing that the Supreme Court has ruled that for a defendant to be entitled to a new trial a party must show that a juror failed to answer a material question honestly during jury questioning, and then show that “a correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause.”
David told Reuters he did not recall being asked about his sexual abuse experience during jury questioning, and that he “flew through” the initial jury questionnaire form but told the outlet that he would have answered honestly.
CNN reviewed a copy of the jury questionnaire form that was given to jurors, which asks “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual assault?” A transcript of his jury questioning before the judge, prosecution and defense shows he was not asked about experiences with sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment.
CNN requested a copy of the juror’s filled-out questionnaire from prosecutors, but the request was denied.
“Juror questionnaires are not public information,” said a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Pagliuca also requested that all deliberating jurors be examined to “evaluate the Juror’s conduct.”
Judge Nathan asked the defense file a motion for a new trial by January 19, with a response by prosecutors due by February 2 and a defense reply by February 9, saying that their briefs should address why there should or should not be an inquiry, adding that she will ultimately make a decision on whether an inquiry is warranted.
Nathan also said in her order that the court will offer the juror a court-appointed counsel, which the juror can decline. If an attorney for the juror wishes to make an argument about whether there should be an inquiry, they can make a filing by January 26.
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