Shielded in anonymity, the jurors selected to preside over Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial will be identified only by their number in the interest of preserving their privacy and safety, but some details about them and their awareness of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal have been publicly disclosed earlier this month.
The 12-person panel, and six alternate jurors waiting on standby, were sworn in by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan following a painstaking selection process. Judge Nathan whittled down a pool of 600 candidates with surveys, first with a written questionnaire and then one-on-one questions held in open court, known as voir dire proceedings.
Rejecting a request by Maxwell’s defense team to conduct this hearing secretly, Nathan held voir dire in full press and public view earlier this month. Potential jurors answered questions on the public record, with certain information—like their names—kept under seal.
Here is a breakdown of the jurors, a group that includes mostly highly educated professionals representing a broad cross-section of New York City and neighboring counties. The list may change as two newly-empaneled jurors expressed conflicts after being chosen. As the biographical information comes from voir dire transcripts, these profiles do not currently include a race and gender breakdown. The jury, however, appears to be diverse in these categories, as well as age and educational background.
The first juror to be selected expressed a rudimentary understanding of the case during voir dire.
“Basically that [Epstein] was charged with a crime involving young women and she allegedly was an accomplice,” that juror, a Bronx resident who worked as a trader’s assistant, said on Nov. 16, attributing that knowledge to “the news,” specifically “Channel 2.”
Throughout the road to trial, Maxwell’s legal team argued that the “tsunami” of media coverage would make a fair trial impossible, but that wave appears not to have washed over the panel.
“The Jeff Epstein scandal and that she may have — she worked with him prior, like outside of the scandal, and may have been involved with it, but I don’t really follow it super well so that’s about it,” replied one juror, a 35-year-old Manhattanite with a bachelor degree in anthropology and communications.
This juror did express a broad awareness of Epstein’s private isle in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“It was sort of like a pleasure island for folks with money and power, facilitated entertainment down there, and that’s — I think the transportation out of the country is what made it a bigger thing. That’s about it,” the juror said, affirming the ability to put those reports aside to hear the case.
Some jurors previously told the judge that they had heard about Epstein—but relatively little about Maxwell, other than as Epstein’s “girlfriend.”
Asked about the former, one juror summarized in a sentence fragment: “Billionaire who solicited prostitutes and underage girls.”
A 28-year-old working toward a master’s degree in public administration, who was also selected, had previously heard about Epstein but not Maxwell—but expressed “no doubt” about being able to decide the case fairly. The juror’s continuing studies hit a roadblock in the COVID-19 era, due to “vaccination status.”
“I am currently not enrolled because of the vaccination status requirement, but I do plan on going back next semester.”
A 60-year-old Manhattanite, with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in urban affairs, reads the Times and Politico but doesn’t watch much TV.
“I am not big on television,” the juror said.
A 43-year-old Westchester resident also has a master’s degree in information knowledge and strategy, obtaining a degree in Columbia. This juror did not study the Maxwell case closely.
“I don’t think I have heard anything in particular related to her,” this juror said of Maxwell. “I have heard of, obviously, Jeffrey Epstein.”
Also a master’s degree recipient, a 51-year-old from Manhattan studied business and works as an administration manager at a not-for-profit. This juror is not a regular news consumer and has no social media footprint other than LinkedIn.
One of the excused jurors, who works in finance, was excused after disclosing that he had conversations with colleagues who had “adamant” opinions about the case.
During a voir dire session earlier this month, this since-excused juror said: “My only concern is, I guess given proximity to private equity and finance, that’s my only concern.”
“I guess my main concern there would be, just given, I guess, the number of high-profile individuals who are in private equity or in just finance generally who have been implicated in this case, given my proximity to potentially some of these individuals, that’s the biggest area I would say,” the juror said.
Opening statements are set to begin later today, after the jury is sworn in and instructed by the judge. The government’s opening statement is expected to last 25 minutes. The opening statement by Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim is expected to last less than an hour.
Maxwell faces six charges, including violations of the Mann Act and alleged sex trafficking offenses. Punishing transporting a minor to perform illegal sex acts, the Mann Act is one of the statutes that singer R. Kelly was recently convicted of violating, in a federal court in Brooklyn. If convicted on all counts, Maxwell faces the possibility of 70 years imprisonment.
This is a developing story.
[image of Maxwell via Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images; image of Epstein via mugshot]
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