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Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: attorneys and judge hash out jury instructions

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: attorneys and judge hash out jury instructions

Charge conference unfolds without notable incident while jurors will start deliberating next week
Prosecutors and lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell convened on Saturday in front of the judge in the Briton’s sex trafficking trial in Manhattan federal court, to discuss how jurors would be instructed.

The attorneys and Judge Alison Nathan hashed out what Nathan will tell jurors before they start deliberating next week, such as which allegations against Maxwell correspond to specific counts against her.

In such proceedings, typical in US jury trials, both sides are able to object or make suggestions about proposed wording for jury instructions. The judge ultimately determines which requests will be met.

Maxwell’s charge conference unfolded without notable incident. Some changes to the proposed jury instructions were agreed.

Changes included referring to the Briton as “Ms Maxwell” rather than “the defendant” and refining when specific age cutoffs would be used instead of “minor”, in references to alleged victims. Maxwell’s lawyers had lobbied for stricter language surrounding descriptions of sex-trafficking.

Maxwell, 59, was apprehended in New Hampshire in July 2020. She is being tried on six counts in relation to alleged involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor teens. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. She alluded to this on Friday, telling Nathan she would not take the stand in her own defense.

“Your honor,” she said, “the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there is no need for me to testify.”

Epstein, Maxwell’s long-term boyfriend and a convicted sex offender, counted Prince Andrew and former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump as associates before killing himself in a New York jail in 2019, while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.

Maxwell’s defense rested on Friday. One of their key witnesses was Eva Dubin, a former Miss Sweden.

Dubin testified that she dated Epstein on and off from 1983 to about 1991, and traveled with him on his private planes. Following her marriage in 1994, she said, they stayed friendly. Dubin also said she and her husband were comfortable with the relationship between their children – two girls and a boy – and Epstein.

“They called him ‘Uncle F’,” she said, adding that she never saw Epstein engage in inappropriate conduct with teenage girls.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Monday. Nathan told attorneys she wanted outstanding legal issues worked out, warning: “I don’t want objections during closings.”

Maxwell’s lawyers have contended that she is a surrogate for Epstein, who cannot be prosecuted in death. On Friday, Nathan told Maxwell’s lawyers: “There will be no argument on the government’s motivations.”

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