A secret, years old and potentially damaging deposition from alleged sex-trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell must be released to the public, a federal appeals court in New York City ruled on Monday.
Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime girlfriend and alleged co-conspirator unsuccessfully attempted to block the publication of her deposition from a 2015 lawsuit in which Virginia Roberts Giuffre accused the couple of sex trafficking her during the early 2000s.
Maxwell’s attorneys sought to seal exactly 418 pages of her 2016 testimony by arguing that it would unfairly prejudice the jury in her upcoming criminal trial over sex trafficking charge after a lower court authorized the deposition’s disclosure earlier this year.
The deposition itself has been referenced by federal prosecutors in order to make their case against Epstein’s right-hand woman in her indictment from June of this year. According to the prosecution, Maxwell perjured herself during the deposition by denying any and all knowledge of Epstein’s sex-trafficking organization.
“Defendant-Appellant Ghislaine Maxwell appeals from a July 23, 2020 order unsealing certain litigation materials, including and related to, Maxwell’s April 2016 deposition transcript,” the court’s brief order summarizes.
“She argues that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the order continues. “Specifically, she argues that there is a lower presumption of access to the deposition materials at issue in this case than to the summary judgment materials we ordered unsealed in [a similar case in 2019], and that her interests outweigh the public’s interests.”
That argument evidently went nowhere with the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday.
“The District Court correctly held that the deposition materials are judicial documents to which the presumption of public access attaches and did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Maxwell’s meritless arguments that her interests superseded the presumption of access,” the three-page order notes. “The District Court’s order articulated and applied the correct legal framework in its individualized review of the materials to be unsealed.”
Monday’s order from the Second Circuit is part and parcel of a lengthy and ongoing search for the truth regarding Epstein and his associates that generally began in earnest–and specifically began in court–when The Miami Herald and their star reporter Julie K. Brown began poking around, suing to obtain information about the late financier’s alleged global sex trafficking empire dedicated to servicing the wealthy with young girls.
The 2019 case cited by Maxwell’s attorneys and the panel was initiated by Brown and the Herald. In that instance, a victory for the plaintiffs, the Second Circuit outlined the beginning of the still-in-progress process underway in the Southern District of New York whereby many of those long-awaited Epstein files are being released to satisfy the public’s interest in the case while making pains (and redactions) to safeguard some third parties’ privacy interests.
Brown noted her latest legal victory against Maxwell:
BREAKING: We won — Ghislaine Maxwell loses fight to keep her Jeffrey Epstein testimony sealedhttps://t.co/0Lr6mD4b18
— julie k. brown (@jkbjournalist) October 19, 2020
The loss for Epstein’s alleged groomer and occasional pilot was actually twofold. Apart from the headline-catching deposition issue, the defendant lost her bid to consolidate her appeal in the civil case with her pending appeal in her criminal case–not a particularly important ruling for Maxwell’s overall legal efforts one way or another but a decision that means her legal costs and efforts are likely to remain inordinately high and spread thin.
“We have reviewed all of the arguments raised by Defendant-Appellant Maxwell on appeal and find them to be without merit,” the panel wrote in their unsigned opinion. “We DENY the motion to consolidate this appeal with the pending appeal in United States v. Maxwell.”
Read the full opinion and order below:
[image via JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images]
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