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Should Juror Revelations Derail Ghislane Maxwell Conviction?

After Ghislaine’s Maxwell’s sex-trafficking and conspiracy conviction, two jurors disclosed past sexual abuse that they might not have included on pretrial questionnaires. Some legal experts advise not judging convictions on what is said in the jury room, reports the Washington Post. Attorneys for the former longtime paramour of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein will seek a new trial on the grounds that Maxwell’s was fundamentally unfair. A judge will consider the issue this month. Defense lawyers based their request on news articles that quoted one juror saying he used his past experiences to convince others on the jury to believe Maxwell’s accusers, despite some gaps and inconsistencies. Maxwell's trial spanned four weeks and featured nearly 30 witnesses, including four accusers.

It would be both expensive and complicated to launch a new trial, and some legal observers said that they were skeptical that Judge Alison Nathan would order a redo. For one thing, they said, it is rare for a judge to overturn a conviction after making careful rulings and decisions to ensure a fair trial. Judges tend to be wary of wading too much into the jury process, which is secret and generally protected. Seth DuCharme, a former Justice Department official and former acting U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, said precedent allows jurors some leniency but that jury conduct becomes improper when, for instance, a juror conceals having a personal relationship with a party in the case. Outside of egregious examples, “there’s a certain acceptance that jurors bring personal experience into deliberations,” DuCharme said. Juries are generally not attorneys and judges, so conversations in jury rooms are “amongst people that come from the community,” he added. “If you were going to disturb every jury verdict because somebody brought their own personal experience into that process, then you would have to disturb every jury verdict.”


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