Ghislaine Maxwell is gearing up for a second bite at the bail apple. This time should be the charm.
Since July, Maxwell has been sequestered at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn facing allegations stemming from her prior association with the late financier-turned-convicted-sex-offender, Jeffrey Epstein — the bulk of which accuse Maxwell of "recruiting" underage women to satisfy Epstein's apparent sexual proclivity for the same.
Maxwell's original bid for bail was rejected by U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan who posited that Maxwell's risk of flight was so great, "even the most restrictive conditions of release would be insufficient" to ensure her return to court. This decision was surprising to most legal scholars, because it signaled an unquestioned acceptance of the prosecution's proffers while ignoring history, justness and law.
In its July 14th decision, the court erroneously concluded that Maxwell's financial means and foreign citizenships would afford her the ability to flee the country, despite being tethered to the Southern District of New York by a GPS tracking device — a common tool for that purpose, and one worn by the many moneyed predecessors who have — or are — facing equally harsh or harsher charges in federal court. Nathan's obtuse reasoning would have one believing, for Maxwell, escaping a global positioning device affixed to her ankle would be as easy as slipping out of a Cartier cuff.
The judge was wrong.
Since then, Maxwell's conditions in custody have proven, in a word, punitive, and seriously impinging on her ability to assist in her own defense, down to and including waking her every 15 minutes, excessive searching and full body scans, guards and cameras that follow her every move, and mask-less, open-mouth exposure to guards who have been in proximity to inmates that have tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of the nature of charges or the public sentiment surrounding them, no American should be treated this way.
Luckily, the law allows Maxwell to take another shot and, this time, it's her best.
With the benefit of hindsight, and the ramifications of a pandemic wreaking havoc inside the prison walls, Maxwell is prepared to pull out all the stops — including a nearly $23 million personal recognizance bond secured by Maxwell's entire net worth (as well as her husband's — yes, she has one), and another $5 million from numerous others who love and support her (she has those, too.)
In a most unusual (perhaps unprecedented) twist, the security company which is to guard her (at her expense) is prepared to put up a million dollars of its own money to guarantee that they won't let her slip away.
Maxwell has also, through counsel, enlisted experts both here and abroad to provide legal and other assurances to the court that, should she wake up one day stark raving mad, and decide to flee, it literally would be impossible for her to get six feet outside the designated curtilage before privately-paid security guards would release the hounds and pounce.
In the long history of similarly situated defendants whose cases wound their ways through the halls of Foley Square, Ghislaine Maxwell's proposed conditions of release are so strict, they're utterly airtight. Some would say, overkill. There was no sound reason for her bail to be denied before, and even less of one now.
Maxwell's latest request for bail literally pulls out all the stops, addressing each point on Judge Nathan's seemingly pre-ordained list of reasons to deny the original request in a manner so copious, it is almost a surprise the government objected at all.
But it did, albeit not nearly with the same point-counter-point precision of its adversary. Instead, the government's opposition can be summed up in two words — ignore it.
The fact that Ghislaine Maxwell would forfeit her entire net worth were she to flee, not to mention $5 million in assets belonging to friends and family? Just ignore it, says the government. Or that Maxwell would not only be electronically monitored upon her release, but would have private around-the-clock surveillance? Ignore that too, they say, along with Maxwell's willingness to execute a waiver of international extradition.
How about the long list of wealthy foreign nationals who were previously granted bail before this very court, or the letter of the law, for that matter, seemingly applicable to everyone except Ghislaine Maxwell? The government figuratively waves it all off with a dismissive nec refert.
While Maxwell's release on bond should be a foregone conclusion, her guilt is far from it. Again, notwithstanding the baying of the hounds in the press.
Despite her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell was never on a "Wanted!" poster or running from the law. Prior to Epstein's death back in August of 2019, Maxwell was living her life far away from his; a respectable family life which entailed charitable work and making meaningful contributions to society. Were it not for the newly resurrected sins of an old boyfriend, Maxwell never would have become the fodder for such unceasing contempt.
There is but one place Maxwell can escape from the antipathy, and that is, in our justice system.
Maxwell is not only presumed innocent, but steadfastly proclaims it. In any case like this one, with old, unsupported, and differing versions of events, the credibility of the accusers will be called into question. It is an inevitable, inalienable right to confront one's accusers. Yet to date, the government continues to hide their identities. Ironic, to say the least, when the accusers have all but outed themselves on Twitter, Netflix and anywhere social justice is sold.
But social justice is no replacement for actual justice. Despite the pomp and the press, the case against Ghislaine Maxwell is, as far as I can tell, weak. This is another crucial consideration for Judge Nathan to revisit.
While some, may wish to paint the case against Maxwell as one involving "minor victims," the accusers are not kids, they are adults. The allegations are decades old and highly contested. Both the court and prosecution agree Maxwell is not a threat or danger to society. That point was made repeatedly by Judge Nathan in her prior decision.
Judge Nathan needs to show to the Bar, to the American public — indeed the world — regardless of the defendant and regardless of the charges, that her court is a place of reason and the rule of law, and not a vehicle for unsupported, sensational accusations.
The biggest point of all? Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein. For Maxwell to receive a fair trial, it's imperative to stop confusing the two. Having a friend who's an alcoholic doesn't make one a drunk.
When Ghislaine Maxwell says she wants to fight the charges to the finish, clear her name, and then manages to marshal a small army to stand with her for that purpose, perhaps that is why.
Jonna Spilbor is an attorney, radio host and legal commentator appearing frequently on Fox News, Court-TV, the Law and Crime Network, Oxygen and other news outlets. Licensed in California, the District of Columbia and New York, she maintains offices in New York City and the Hudson Valley. Jonna can be reached at JonnaOnTheLaw@gmail.com. Read Jonna Spilbor's Reports — More Here.
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