NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ghislaine Maxwell deserves bail because her “dire” detention conditions make it impossible to prepare for trial for getting Jeffrey Epstein for sexually abusing teenage girls, her lawyer told a US on Monday – Court of Appeal.
Attorney David Markus said it was unfair to force Maxwell to check millions of pages of material behind bars, with guards waking her with flashlights every 15 minutes because, like Epstein, she might have committed suicide.
“We just want a fair opportunity, a fair chance, so that she can prepare for the trial of her life,” Markus told a panel of the 2nd US Court of Appeals in Manhattan. “It’s impossible to prepare for the trial if you can’t get sleep.”
59-year-old Maxwell pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and care for three girls for sex from 1994 to 1997 and sex trafficking for caring for and paying a fourth girl for nude massages and sex acts with the financier from 2001 to 2001 2004.
The British celebrity appeals to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who on March 22 rejected a $ 28.5 million bail package that included renouncing her British and French citizenship.
Nathan has refused bail three times, saying that Maxwell is a “significant flight risk” even with a high bail.
Maxwell has been incarcerated in a million dollar New Hampshire home that prosecutors have called a hiding place since her arrest in Brooklyn in July 2020. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
Federal Prosecutor Lara Pomerantz told the appellate court, which consists of three judges, that Nathan had not made a “clear mistake” in refusing bail, a high legal standard.
A judge asked if prison officials who did not want to risk “further embarrassment” of another inmate’s suicide should have an independent psychiatrist evaluate Maxwell.
Pomerantz said Maxwell’s lawyers had not asked for one, and Nathan “actively” monitored her prison conditions to make sure she was ready for the trial.
The appeals court did not say when it would decide.
Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted. A trial is scheduled for July 12th, but Maxwell would like it to be postponed until November or next January because of its complexity.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Grant McCool)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.