The views of this opinion editorial are the author’s, Ms. M. Ewell, and not necessarily the opinions of the editors of the Frank Report.
By M. Ewell
Every time you write about Ghislaine Maxwell, you retraumatize four innocent young girls who were abused. Every time you write the words “due process” you imply she might be innocent, which implies four young victims are lying. This is wildly inappropriate, for it challenges victims’ veracity and increases their trauma. This is called victim-shaming. It should be a crime.
The presumption of innocence, the right to trial by jury, the right to confront witnesses, and all archaic ideas that are lumped together as “due process,” is inimical to the new paradigm: Believe the female victim or cause her further harm.
In the case of Ghisliane Maxwell, due process, besides being immoral, is useless too.
Jurors will never consider anything but a guilty verdict in the Maxwell case. Even if the prosecution should somehow fail to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, because the young victims were abused 20-25 years ago, and corroborating evidence may be weak or lost, and that all of the terrified victims are rightfully seeking millions in civil damages, it is a safeguard of our system that the public also has a voice, through our watchdog, the media, to ensure justice is done.
Jurors, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright
Can you imagine what the media will report if a jury acquitted Ghislaine Maxwell? Any juror would be wise to assume they will be outed, and rightfully canceled, if they let these young victims fail to get justice. And if there was a hung jury, it is worse, for a retrial will only traumatize the four teen victims yet again.
Even if the judge orders jurors’ names to be kept secret during trial, there is no law in the land that can prevent the media from finding out the holdout juror[s] and publishing his name. The media will pay money to get the name and out him and there is nothing anyone can do. The holdout juror might be investigated by the FBI for corruption or collusion.
A jury of fear, as much as a jury of hate, assures that justice will be done. Let every juror assume that if they ignore public consensus and brazenly defy the public’s disdain for these terrible crimes, and the righteous hate of the criminal that committed them, they can be punished extralegally for an improper verdict.
There is another problem with due process arguments that so traumatize these young teens who were abused. When you write about the “presumption of innocence”, you ignore the more prevalent and pervasive presumption: The prosecution is only going to charge guilty persons. They do not charge innocent people. Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York are trained professionals with correspondingly high conviction rates. More than 97 percent of criminal defendants waive trial and seek justice directly from the Southern District in the form of a plea deal. What does that tell you? They know what they are doing!
For those who go to trial, as it will in the Maxwell case, a verdict of “not guilty” insults these trained prosecutors, not only government attorneys but FBI agents who know where to find errant jurors should they happen to be influenced by anything other than the law.
If you are a juror, who do you feel you are morally obligated to believe? The criminal Maxwell or the good people who put their reputation on the line, who say she is guilty:
- Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department
- The USAO SDNY Public Corruption Unit
- Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller, Alison Moe, and Maurene Comey, who are in charge of the prosecution.
- FBI Special Agents.
In reality, we don’t need a jury to determine her guilt. The Maxwell trial took place already in the collective consciousness of the good people of this nation and good people everywhere. The verdict is unanimous. All a jury trial does is showcase the fairness of our system, affirming the verdict an intelligent public already rendered.
A show trial, however, must produce a guilty verdict or we risk shattering our nation’s confidence in the integrity of our system. A trial can also admirably showcase the prosecution, an advantage for deterring trials. It will reassure us also that we have the fairest system in the world because we get an expected end, which is justice.
Besides the presumption of competence that inures to the prosecution, the presumption of integrity belongs to these trained government lawyers who have strong investigative abilities and media savvy.
While we respect the judiciary, especially judges who were former prosecutors, we don’t need a judge in the Maxwell case.
You could put a scarecrow on the bench and the result would be the same. This presents an opportunity for criminal justice reform.
Invited to Bypass Trial
Maxwell started serving her sentence on the day of her arrest, in solitary confinement, in conditions harsher than what she can hope to experience if she takes a plea deal. Denial of bail was a gesture of kindness, meant to advise her that a plea bargain is her only alternative.
By the judge denied bail, despite Maxwell offering release conditions that arguably might have reasonably assured the public that she would not, and, in fact, could not escape jurisdiction, she was advised by the judge in tandem with the prosecution that the outcome of the trial is predetermined. If she insists on being stubborn, wasting the court’s time by taking this to trial, there are methods in place to ensure that she cannot hope to use lawyers tricks to fool a halfwit jury and cheat justice. Those methods include the conditions of her detention, making communications with tricky defense lawyers cumbersome and not confidential, and to provide, through her detention, health-diminishing conditions such as bad food and ensure she has little restful sleep. Mold, vermin, bad air, bad water, unsanitary plumbing that backs up and provides the smell of sewage in her cell add to the subliminal message. Filming her going to the toilet, shining a light on her face every 15 minutes when she sleeps, never letting her get any outside fresh air or sunlight help remind her. Rough treatment by guards can also subtly remind her, with the added ingredient of invasive full body cavity searches thrown in for good measure, made part of her regular, specially-designed-for-her routine.
She is guilty. Take a plea Ghislaine.
If she does not take a plea deal, she will be guaranteed to be in ill-health, possibly mentally unstable, and thereby prevented from scheming to cook up some lying defense with her attorneys when she goes to trial this fall. Harsh, even inhuman pretrial detention conditions, is perhaps the single most effective tool consistently utilized by the Department of Justice to assail and thwart the lying defense machinations of attorneys for extremely guilty criminals.
Maxwell is already convicted. She is the only one who doesn’t know it. Remember she victimized four little girls, bringing them into a lifetime of horror and ruining their lives forever. She deserves no mercy.
The only question is how she lives the rest of her life? Will she be assigned a comfortable prison cell in a safe and welcoming prison for sex offenders and live decently among her own kind, or spend her life in a maximum security prison where she will be a hunted woman, targeted by other prisoners who hate child sex offenders and perforce have to remain in solitary confinement for her own safety, or maybe even placed in the supermax in Colorado. That might depend on the recommendations of the prosecution and the judge. It may depend solely on whether she takes a plea or forces the prosecutors to get a conviction the hard way.
Of course, she, like her former employer, lover, and coconspirator, might conveniently, suddenly and prematurely depart from this transitory existence, while in the custody of the same authorities who handled his pretrial detention.
Trial juries are by design uninformed, incompetent and unreliable. A good prosecutor will often keep a trial jury confused or lulled to restful sleep to prevent any miscarriage of justice.
This is not to suggest that there should be no trials. When the prosecutor or the media are in doubt about guilt or innocence, a trial may be desirable. But whenever there is no doubt of the guilt of a defendant, there is an idea gaining currency, one that is perhaps long overdue, which is to let prosecutors swear out an affidavit waiving trial.
“I, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, solemnly swear that this department has investigated the case of Ghislaine Maxwell thoroughly and exhaustively, examining all available evidence and potential witness testimony and I duly declare under penalty of judicial admonition that the defendant is guilty of the crimes she has been charged with beyond a reasonable doubt and that her case is not defensible. Therefore, on behalf of the taxpayers, I solemnly declare trial is waived.”
As it stands now, there is no participation by the people, i.e. as jurors, and a minimal role for the judiciary in 97 percent of federal criminal cases. Federal prosecutors began eliminating trials, which relied upon juries who are too often fooled by tricky defense attorneys, by streamlining the process in the last few decades. To erase the obstructionist role of juries in the administration of prosecution, a process was devised of overcharging guilty defendants to encourage plea deals that result in prison sentences that simulate what the guilty defendant should get in reality based on the crimes he really committed.
As for the odd case of an innocent defendant, if there exists such a creature, it was determined that it is better to have an efficient system of plea bargaining rather than let dangerous criminals go free to roam the streets and prey on many times the number of innocent people than the stray innocent person who might be accidentally falsely accused. The occasional innocent person who is falsely convicted might be rationally considered a necessary sacrifice to protect greater numbers of innocent people from being victimized by set-loose criminals.
Even biased reports that involved studies of DNA exonerations show that not much more than 10 percent of convicted defendants were factually innocent when they took plea deals admitting to crimes that DNA evidence showed they did not commit. It might sound horrific that overcharging these defendants made them calculate that a lesser plea deal was safer than risking trial, but consider the alternative. Studies show that the average federal criminal produces 22.7 victims in their lifetime of crime. Too much due process results in lower conviction rates which means while the occasional innocent may be protected, it also means too many dangerous criminals will be freed to commit more and more crimes at 22.7 innocent victims per guilty man going free.
- Better arrest an innocent person than leave a guilty one free.
- Better to kill ten innocent people than let a guilty person escape.
- Better to kill a hundred innocent people than let one truly guilty person go free.
“Our case is very strong,” said the prosecutor and the judge, in turn, replied, “Then let’s sentence her first, and consider the verdict later.”
Trial Will Go as Planned
Judge Alison Nathan is not going to be crucified by the media. She will rule, overrule, and instruct the jury, and, if necessary, during the trial, make appropriate facial gestures, whether of scoffing, appearing quizzical or skeptical, offering a frown, a smile of derision, a shaking of the head, or a nod, rolling her eyes, or just offering plain good, knowing and wise looks at appropriate moments for their benefit so as to not, especially if and when defense lawyers gain any undue momentum, allow the jury to be confused about what she expects of them.
She is not going to wear the stink, far worse than the perfume of any backed-up prison toilet, of being the judge who let
Jeffrey Epstein Ghislaine Maxwell go free.