The rogue juror whose admission that he was a victim of sexual abuse has thrown the Ghislaine Maxwell conviction into chaos and has lawyered up over the disastrous fall-out of his revelations, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Juror Scotty David rejected prosecutors’ offer to appoint counsel for him when they called for a court investigation in an apparent attempt to get ahead of events branded ‘a disaster’ by legal experts.
Instead, New York based lawyer Todd Spodek, who represented ‘fake heiress’ Anna Sorokin, informed the court that he had been appointed counsel for Juror 50 and that his client was rejecting its offer of counsel.
And Maxwell’s defense team wasted no time rejecting a prolonged investigation and calling for a mistrial.
David was the first of two jurors who have revealed their stories of sexual abuse and the role that sharing it played in deliberations.
He first told DailyMail.com that he had not revealed this history during jury selection because it had not been asked on the juror questionnaire.
When it was pointed out that question 48 of the 50 asked exactly that question, he then claimed that he did not remember it but had answered all questions ‘honestly.’
He told other outlets that he, ‘flew through’ the questionnaire.
He also revealed that a second juror had shared their own story of sexual abuse, a claim later verified by the juror who wished to remain anonymous.
Juror Scotty David rejected prosecutors’ offer to appoint counsel for him when they called for a court investigation in an apparent attempt to get ahead of events branded ‘a disaster’ by legal experts
Scotty’s admission has thrown Maxwell’s conviction into chaos as her defense team is calling for a new trial
US State Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams called for the court to, ‘conduct an inquiry,’ in a letter filed in Federal Court Wednesday morning claiming that public statements made by the juror, ‘merit attention by the Court.’
FREE AT LAST? GETTING BAIL FOR MAXWELL IS POSSIBLE
With the declaration of a mistrial the clock would effectively be wound back to one day before this trial started.
Because Maxwell was not out on bail, she would not automatically walk free, but one legal expert told DailyMail.com that it was ‘inconceivable’ that her attorneys would not swiftly attempt to renew their bid for bail.
Because a mistrial under these circumstances would not have been declared for ‘substantive’ reasons – there was no evidence admitted that should not have been, nor evidence withheld by the government, for example – there is nothing in the proceedings that would change her lawyer’s previously unsuccessful bond arguments.
However, the situation itself would hand Maxwell’s lawyers a new and potentially persuasive reason to press for bail.
According to one expert, ‘You have a constitutional right to a speedy trial and her lawyers could now argue that because of all this she essentially has not got that.
‘The prosecution would absolutely be brought in again because the mistrial would not have been called for a substantive reason, but for what was basically a screw up. That means they will have to go through the whole process again.
‘If I were her lawyer, I would certainly be making the argument that it is inhumane to make her sit in jail through all that, after all this time, and all over again.
‘The judge just might be sympathetic to that.’
The letter stated, ‘In particular, the juror has described being a victim of sexual abuse. Assuming the accuracy of the reporting, the juror asserted that he “flew through” the prospective juror questionnaire and does not recall being asked whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse, but stated that “he would have answered honestly.”’
The letter signed off by all four prosecutors asked for a hearing to be scheduled within the month.
But Maxwell’s lawyers have insisted that no investigation is necessary, calling instead for a new trial and claiming that the statements that both jurors have now made publicly across multiple news outlets are ‘incontrovertible grounds’ for a mistrial.
Judge Alison Nathan has stated that she will hear briefings from all parties as the high-profile prosecution hovers on the brink of implosion. A date is yet to be determined.
Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Insider that David and the second jurors’ decision to speak out was, ‘absolutely the last thing you want when you get a guilty verdict. It’s an absolute disaster.’
Maxwell was convicted on five out of six counts of sexual trafficking in a verdict that came at the end of the fifth day of deliberations and proceedings that lasted four weeks.
If the convictions stand, the 60-year-old ex-socialite faces up to 65 years in prison.
But now, according to Rahmani, ‘This entire conviction may get tossed and we may have to retry the case.’
The admission by the jurors pose two potential issues – perjury, or lying under oath and prejudice, or a preconceived opinion that may have improperly swayed the jury.
According to Maxwell’s lawyers it makes no difference whether either or both jurors deliberately or simply mistakenly failed to correctly answer the juror questionnaire when asked, ‘Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault? (This includes actual or attempted sexual assault or other unwanted sexual advance, including by a stranger, acquaintance, supervisor, teacher, or family member).’
There were three boxes to tick by way of answer: Yes (self), Yes (friend or family member) and No.
The US Attorney General has requested an investigation into Scotty David’s public admission that he ‘flew through’ the juror questionnaire and ‘could not remember’ revealing that he had been a victim of sexual abuse
Questioned by DailyMail.com David could remember only a question relating to friends or family members and colored up when pressed about any answer relating to his own sexual history.
According to former Federal Prosecutor David S Weinstein, now a partner in Miami based law firm Jones Walker, all jurors may now be interviewed and specifically the two jurors who have shared their stories publicly.
He has now rejected prosecutors’ offer to appoint counsel for him and has hired his own lawyer, Todd Spodek, who represented ‘fake heiress’ Anna Sorokin
He said that the admissions would not necessarily be considered automatic grounds for a mistrial but that it would, at the very least, be ‘an arrow in the quiver’ for Maxwell’s appeal.
He said, ‘There’s going to be a record of whether or not he was asked that question, what his answer was, whether there were any follow up questions. Maxwell’s lawyer will have this questionnaire and they will go back to it.’
DailyMail.com has already established that whatever David answered on the questionnaire it did not elicit any follow up questions at the interview or ‘voir dire’ stage of jury selection.
David told DailyMail.com, ‘It was never raised. We went in front of the judge and there were all the lawyers in the room and that’s where they asked me some questions. They asked me what I do, what I like to do for fun and if I can be fair and impartial. It was literally like 30 seconds long and then I was out of the room.’
Conversely when he shared his story in the jury room on day three of deliberations, he recalled ‘the room went silent.’
According to David his own sharing led a second juror to share their story. His experience, he said, allowed him to better understand the victims who testified and parlay that into a better understanding in jurors who were not convinced of the victims’ credibility.
Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell say they have ‘incontrovertible’ grounds for a mistrial after a juror openly admitted that he was a survivor of sexual abuse and had discussed it during deliberations
According to Weinstein lawyers will want to know if he answered ‘no’ to the question about being a sexual assault victim whether it was inadvertent or intentional.
He said, ‘Was this something that was done intentionally to hide the fact that was what he was? If he says I didn’t do it intentionally maybe he say I got this big questionnaire and ticked these boxes. I made a mistake. I didn’t come in wanting to be on the jury.’
David told DailyMail.com that he was ‘quite excited’ to be selected for jury duty and that when he discovered that he had been called for selection for the Maxwell trial he was, ‘shocked.’
He said, ‘I thought this is incredible. If I get selected for this that would be an honor.’
He added, ‘I honestly didn’t know much about her or Jeffery Epstein going into it. I didn’t know who Jeffery Epstein was until he died.’
During the trial Scotty, who works in finance, was seated in the third row of the jury box, in the back corner. From his vantage point, he said, he had a vista of the entire court and the ‘perfect view’ of Maxwell herself
If Maxwell’s lawyer were aware of David and the second juror’s history and failed to pick up on it, or to consider its possible implications, Weinstein pointed out, ‘that’s on them.’
He said, ‘Being a victim of sexual abuse doesn’t disqualify you from being a juror…Even if it did influence the way the jury voted, they’re not asking people to put aside they’re life experience during deliberations.
‘They’re asking them to use that to determine proof beyond reasonable doubt and apply it to the facts.’
But while Weinstein took the view that the revelations did not automatically mean the tossing of Maxwell’s verdict or a retrial he admitted, ‘This is certainly another arrow in the quiver of the defense team. It’s a bit of a bombshell.’
Ghislaine Maxwell could appeal her conviction on FOUR grounds
Ghislaine Maxwell has four potential grounds for appeal – including the judge’s decision to force the jury to work through New Year’s Eve holiday due to the coronavirus, a legal analysis by DailyMail.com reveals.
Lawyers for the former socialite, who is facing 65 years in jail for recruiting and trafficking underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, could zero in on how Judge Alison Nathan handled the case as they seek to overturn the conviction.
Their primary argument will likely be how Judge Nathan ordered the jury to sit every single day of the final week until they reached a verdict.
That would have included New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, even though it falls on a Saturday and is a public holiday, and Sunday as well.
Maxwell’s lawyers complained that such instructions were essentially telling the jury they needed to ‘hurry up’.
Judge Nathan said that the move was necessary because the ‘astronomical’ numbers of Covid-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant meant there was a real risk of a ‘mistrial’.
But at the end of that very day the jury came back with their verdict.
Other issues which could be raised on appeal include how Judge Nathan handled a question from the panel about count four – transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity – on which Maxwell was convicted.
Maxwell’s lawyers are likely to raise concerns about a jury note related to the accuser Annie Farmer and counts one and three, on which they also found Maxwell guilty.
Fourthly, Maxwell’s lawyers could object to how Judge Nathan brusquely handled their request for the US Marshals to force one witness to attend court, a request they ultimately dropped.
Source: Daily Mail UK