A federal court in New York City ruled that deposition testimony from alleged sex-trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell must be released within the next two days.
The order by Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska capped off a whirlwind day for Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime girlfriend, alleged co-conspirator and groomer as her attorneys attempted to fight back against a recent appeals court ruling mandating the disclosure of their client’s long sought after deposition.
“In light of the Court of Appeals’ mandate affirming this court’s July 23, 2020 order, the parties shall, as soon as is practicable, prepare for unsealing (1) the transcripts of Ms. Maxwell’s and Doe 1’s depositions and (2) all materials quoting those transcripts or disclosing information from those transcripts,” Preska wrote in an initial, two-page order released early Thursday afternoon.
“The documents shall be unsealed in the manner prescribed by the court’s July 28, 2020 order, and shall include minimal redactions for personally identifiable information, the names of nonparties as well as the families of nonparties’ that could be used to identify the nonparties, and descriptions of nonparty conduct that would allow readers to discern the identity of a given nonparty,” Preska’s original order continued. “In order to hasten the unsealing process and to avoid any last-minute disputes, the court advises the parties that the necessary redactions are intended to be as limited in scope as is workable. SO ORDERED.”
In relatively short order, attorneys for Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a letter motion with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) explaining that they would be able to comply with the document production order by the end of the day on Tuesday.
“We represent Plaintiff Virginia Giuffre in this matter and write to confirm that, pursuant to the Court’s orders dated July 28, 29, and 30, and October 20, 2020, Plaintiff may file the remaining documents [at issue and subject to the court’s orders] later today,” the one-page filing notes. “Plaintiff respectfully requests the Court’s confirmation that she may file the documents at issue on [the federal electronic case filing system].”
The controversy before the SDNY was initiated in 2015 as a defamation case between Giuffre and Maxwell in 2015. Giuffre accused the allegedly criminal power couple of sex trafficking her during the early 2000s. Epstein infamously got off with a slap on the wrist courtesy of federal authorities in Florida; Maxwell is currently facing a trial in New York on various crimes related to the alleged global sex trafficking conspiracy. She has consistently denied the charges and asserted her innocence.
Maxwell’s attorneys responded to Giuffre with a letter motion of their own–pleading with the court to deny the proposal because the documents were allegedly not redacted enough and asking for additional time because they were unable to reach their client.
“[T]he Second Circuit’s ruling regarding the appeal was issued late in the day yesterday,” attorney Laura Menninger complained. “Counsel for Ms. Maxwell (who is in custody and difficult to communicate with) is still considering whether to seek any further emergency appellate remedies and/or to provide this Court additional information to the extent consistent with other courts’ rulings that might impact the release of these materials.”
“[C]ounsel for Ms. Maxwell requests that the Court refuse to ‘confirm’ [Giuffre’s] proposed course of action and instead, consistent with today’s [earlier court order], direct the parties confer as they have been on proposed redactions to Ms. Maxwell’s deposition prior to its release,” the motion concludes.
That request, however, was quite literally ignored–at least at first.
Giuffre’s expeditious timeline was quickly endorsed by the court which briefly signed off on her letter motion in a second order released just “[m]oments after” Maxwell formally requested the reprieve, according to Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld.
“Counsel may proceed with filing the relevant documents to the public docket,” Judge Preska advised, “subject to the previously-ordered redactions. SO ORDERED.”
But what looked like an uncharacteristically clean and quick win for transparency regarding the latest tranche of the long-awaited Epstein files was not quite meant to be–at least not quite yet.
In a third order of the day, the court noted that signals were crossed and that apparently the judge didn’t mean to sign off on Giuffre’s plan without addressing–at least some of–Maxwell’s complaints.
“The court received notice of the filing of Ms. Maxwell’s letter of today after its order directing Ms. Giuffre to post the relevant materials had been docketed,” Judge Preska briefly noted in the one-page order. “In light of Ms. Maxwell’s letter, counsel shall confer, and the material previously ordered unsealed shall be posted on the docket no later than 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 22, 2020. SO ORDERED.”
[image via Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images]
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