Maxwell Requests Retrial, Citing 'Juror No. 50'

If a juror lied on questionnaire about past sexual abuse, it could be a factor
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 7:40 AM CST
Updated Jan 20, 2022 12:05 PM CST
Maxwell Jurors' Remarks Could Be 'Huge Blow' to Prosecution
The main jury panel sits in the jury box waiting to be dismissed after deliberating during Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)

Update: Ghislaine Maxwell has requested a retrial following her conviction for crimes including sex trafficking of a minor. The request was made Thursday by a lawyer who requested that all submissions related to "Juror No. 50 remain under seal until the court rules," per the CBC. Two jurors told the media that their own accounts of childhood sexual abuse influenced other jurors. The Supreme Court has held that jury deliberations can't factor into verdict challenges, per the New York Times. However, experts say the verdict could be successfully challenged if jurors were found to have intentionally lied on a questionnaire asking if they'd been a victim of sexual misconduct, and if yes, whether that might make them biased. Our original story from Jan. 6 follows:

Ghislaine Maxwell's sex-trafficking conviction is barely a week old and it is already starting to look shaky thanks to jurors' remarks to the press. One man, identified as "Scotty," told Reuters on Tuesday that jurors who doubted whether victims were recalling events correctly were won over when he shared his own account of childhood sexual abuse. Another juror told the New York Times on Wednesday that they were also sexually abused as a child—and that speaking about that experience during deliberations seemed to influence other jurors. It's not clear, however, whether either juror answered yes on a prospective juror questionnaire that asked whether "they or anyone in their families had experienced sexual abuse," and Maxwell's attorneys have now requested a mistrial.

US Attorney’s Office spokesman Nicholas Biase told the Washington Post that juror questionnaires are confidential. Maxwell's defense team also declined to comment on how the jurors answered the question. Scotty told Reuters that he "flew through" the questionnaire and he doesn't recall being asked about sexual abuses, though he added that he would have answered honestly. Maxwell's lawyers said Wednesday that the conviction should be tossed and a new trial scheduled because the "interest of justice so requires." In a letter to US District Judge Alison Nathan, attorney Christian Everdell argued that the remarks present "incontrovertible grounds for a new trial."

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In a separate filing, prosecutors asked Nathan to investigate the remarks, saying " some of the statements, as related in the media, merit attention by the court. " Nathan gave the defense until Jan. 19 to file a motion for a new trial. "This could be a huge blow to the prosecution if this juror did in fact fail to provide such information,” criminal defense attorney Julie Rendelman tells the Guardian. "Keep in mind that this juror suggests that his own experience as a victim of sexual abuse not only impacted his decision making but others in the jury who he relayed his story to." (More Ghislaine Maxwell stories.)

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