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Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers report suspicious guards in letter to judge

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Ghislaine Maxwell is being held under “uniquely onerous” conditions at the New York prison where she is awaiting trial, her lawyers contend.

Attorneys for the British socialite, who is accused of recruiting teenage girls for the late billionaire and convicted sex offender, Jeffery Epstein, have asked the judge to allow Maxwell to be moved into the general population at the Metropolitan Detention Center because she is being “treated less favorably than a typical pretrial detainee.”

(Image: Reuters/France 24 screenshot)

In a letter to Jude Alison J. Nathan, the federal judge in New York assigned to the case, Maxwell’s attorneys highlighted “critical issues that greatly impact Ms. Maxwell’s ability to receive a fair trial,” asking the judge to intervene in the 58-year-old’s “conditions of confinement.”

Maxwell, who has pleaded not guilty, has been”treated less favorably than a typical pretrial detainee, and this has impacted her ability to assist in her defense,” the lawyers wrote, asking for changes so she can “meaningfully participate in her own defense.”

The letter suggested that Maxwell’s treatment in the prison “is a reaction to the circumstances surrounding the pretrial detention and death of Mr. Epstein,” who died from apparent suicide exactly a year before on August 10, 2019.

“As a result of what occurred with Mr. Epstein, Ms. Maxwell is being treated worse than other similarly situated pretrial detainees, which significantly impacts her ability to prepare a defense and be ready for trial on the schedule set by the Court,” the lawyers, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, argued.

Maxwell “has been held under uniquely onerous conditions” at the Brooklyn facility where she awaits a trial that has been scheduled to begin in July 2021, they claimed, adding that she has been “confined alone in an area outside of the general population for the entire 36-day period (40 days if we include her confinement in New Hampshire), which is over three weeks longer than the 14-day quarantine period required for all new arrivals to the MDC under current COVID-19 protocols.”

Maxwell, they contend, is surveilled 24 hours a day by security cameras which are reviewed by “multiple prison guards, many of whom do not appear to be regular MDC personnel.

“These prison guards constantly observe Ms. Maxwell and take notes on her every activity, including her phone conversations with defense counsel,” the letter read.

“Until recently, Ms. Maxwell was subjected to suicide watch protocols, including being woken up every few hours during the night and being forced to wear special clothing, despite the fact that she, unlike Mr. Epstein, has never been suicidal and was never diagnosed as exhibiting risk factors for suicide,” the attorneys stated.

They added that their client’s cell is searched multiple times a day, she has been “forced to undergo numerous body scans,” and her access to the “standard prison resources available to other pretrial detainees in the general population has been extensively curtailed or eliminated altogether.”

The letter argued that these circumstances threaten Maxwell’s Sixth Amendment right to “participate in her defense” as she is not being allotted enough time to review materials and have discussions with her attorneys as she faces six counts of sex trafficking involving minors between 1994 and 1997.

“Ms. Maxwell does not seek special treatment at the MDC; but she does ask that she not be specially disfavored in her treatment in detention, especially when it comes to preparing her defense to conduct that allegedly took place over 25 years ago,” the letter concluded, asking the judge to direct the Bureau of Prisons to release Maxwell to the general population at the facility and to grant her the same privileges as other detainees as well as giving her “increased access” to a computer time to review documents in her defense.

Frieda Powers

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