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Judge Hands Ghislaine Maxwell Another Loss in Fight over Sealed Epstein Documents


NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Ghislaine Maxwell attends day 1 of the 4th Annual WIE Symposium at Center 548 on September 20, 2013 in New York City.

A federal judge has handed accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell another loss in a protracted litigation over whether a cache of documents in a defamation suit will be unsealed and made public.

A first group of documents was made public on July 30. Unsealing of additional documents was postponed; Maxwell’s attorneys sought an appeals court order to stop the release of the information.

The documents were part of a defamation lawsuit filed Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell, Prince Andrew, and Alan Dershowitz accuser.

The Senior U.S. District Court judge overseeing the unsealing in the Southern District of New York, Loretta A. Preska, rubbished a Maxwell attempt to see a three-week stay of the process of unsealing the additional records. Maxwell cited “the availability of ‘critical new information’ related both to this action and to the pending criminal case against her.”

“Ms. Maxwell’s request is denied,” Preska wrote. “Given that Ms. Maxwell is not at liberty to disclose this new information because it is subject to the protective order in the criminal action, the Court has no reasonable basis to impose a stay.  And, as Ms. Maxwell knows, her ipse dixit does not provide compelling grounds for relief. Should the protective order in the criminal action be modified to permit disclosure of the relevant information to the Court, Ms. Maxwell may renew her request for a stay of the unsealing process.”

“Ipse dixit” is a Latin term which means “something asserted but not proved.”

Preska said she would address “at a later date” the “methods for streamlining the unsealing process, and . . . the next set of docket entries to be reviewed for potential unsealing.”

Preska’s order came after a letter from Sigrid S. McCawley, an attorney for Giuffre, indicated that Maxwell’s attorneys issued their “unsolicited” request to shut down the proceedings “without conferring with Plaintiff beforehand.” Thus, as McCawley argued on Giuffre’s behalf, the request had to be denied.

“Maxwell’s decision to request a stay based solely on vague allusions to ‘critical new information’ illustrates her disregard for the Court’s time, as well as her willingness to engage in dilatory conduct to thwart the unsealing process,” McCawley wrote to the judge. “Absent any description of what her “critical new information” is, the Court should deny Maxwell’s request without prejudice to renewal. Any renewed request for a stay should be accompanied by a coherent explanation of how any ‘new information’ she received via discovery in her criminal action justifies interfering with the unsealing process that the Second Circuit ordered over a year ago.”

Christine N. Walz, an attorney for the Miami Herald, similarly asked the judge to jettison this and other requests for delays:

Ms. Maxwell has made multiple efforts to stall this litigation and prevent the disclosure of documents to the public. Her August 10, 2020 letter is more of the same: It fails to offer a reasoned basis to support her request for a stay and instead says that the Court should trust her. This is wholly insufficient and the Court should deny Ms. Maxwell’s request.

In addition to asking for a three-week stay, Ms. Maxwell also seeks to institute a blanket one-week stay of every unsealing decision by this Court, without offering any justification for doing so. The decision to grant a stay requires a case-by-case analysis; stays should not be incorporated into the unsealing process as a matter of right.

Intervenors respectfully request that this Court deny Ms. Maxwell’s request for a three- week stay, as well as any other request by Ms. Maxwell to unnecessarily delay the unsealing of the records in this case.

The judge agreed.

The Miami Herald has been active in the fight to unseal the records; the paper has been widely praised by many parties — but not by Maxwell, obviously — for its groundbreaking reporting on the Epstein and Maxwell cases.

Read the documents filed Wednesday below:

Ghislaine Maxwell Documents… by Law&Crime on Scribd

[photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.