British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in court on Saturday for a rare weekend hearing in which lawyers made arguments on how the judge should instruct a jury on the law in Maxwell’s sexual abuse trial .
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan has scheduled the hearing – held in an otherwise closed courthouse and absent of jurors – with the goal of keeping Maxwell’s trial on a fast track that will allow her case to reach a jury early next week. Closing arguments and Nathan’s reading of about 80 pages of instructions are scheduled for Monday.
Prosecutors and Maxwell’s attorneys spent the morning in federal court in Manhattan wrestling over the exact wording the judge will use to describe to jurors the legal elements that must be proven to convict Maxwell on six counts, including including sex trafficking of a minor. One of the requests from Maxwell’s lawyers that was approved: the judge should call her “Mrs. Maxwell” instead of “the accused”. An attentive Maxwell sat at the defense table, occasionally taking notes. His brother and sister, still present at the trial for the past three weeks, were among the spectators.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges which prosecutors say show she and financier Jeffrey Epstein were involved in a scheme to prepare teenagers to have sex with him. The defense responded by claiming that she had become the scapegoat for Epstein, 66, who committed suicide in his Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.
The defense completed its evidence on Friday after Maxwell told the judge she would not testify.
“Your Honor, the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, so there is no reason for me to testify,” said Maxwell. (AP) RUP RUP
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