Jessica: It may be a holiday weekend, but jury deliberations need to continue. That is the message from the presiding judge in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial. And this comes as fears grow over the Omicron variant and potentially a possible mistrial for the longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate. If convicted on all six counts, Maxwell could face up to 70 years in prison. Criminal defense and congressional law attorney Page Pate is joining us now to talk more about this case. Page, great to see you. Unless jurors decide on a verdict here, they’re gonna keep going through New Year’s. What do you make of that?
Page: Well, I think that’s very unusual. But I understand the judge is concerned number one, that they don’t have a verdict yet. Although they did indicate yesterday, they were making progress we have not seen the type of progress I think that the judge was hoping for when she decided to give them time off for Christmas. The other thing, obviously, that’s concerning the judge, and I think many people right now, is the fact that COVID numbers are, you know, coming up again. And it’s very possible when you have this many people serving on a jury together, they’re doing deliberations, that there can obviously be some transmission of COVID. And if that happens, if someone gets sick, if they have to stop deliberations, then that could lead to a mistrial, which means they have to start all over again. So, obviously, the judge is concerned about those things.
Jessica: Right. And the jury we know has sent 14 notes and deliberations are now in their sixth day. Today was the first time they did ask for some testimony transcripts from five defense witnesses, but 14 notes they’ve sent out with questions. What do you think is happening here? What does that tell you?
Page: Well, it’s always difficult to know what’s going on inside the jury room. I think most people assume, “Hey, if they’re asking for witness transcripts, if they’re asking questions about the jury instructions, then maybe the jury is split.” But it could just mean that there’s one or two people that are holding out, and the others in the jury are trying to convince them on the evidence by getting that evidence again, going over the testimony of the witnesses again to try to convince them that it’s either guilty or not guilty. And in this case, it’s not like a simple murder case or manslaughter case where you have one or two counts, there are six separate counts. And these are fairly complicated federal charges. So that’s necessarily gonna take some time to go through it.
Jessica: To go through all of that. At this point, what do you think the probability is of a mistrial? Is that something you think is still kind of out of the realm of possibility or possible?
Page: Well, it’s certainly possible because even though the judge can make the jury stay through the holiday weekend, she cannot pressure them to return a verdict. Federal law requires the jury to understand that they don’t have to give up a firmly, honestly held belief just in order to reach a verdict or to reach consensus. So, they’ve gone a long time. And it is certainly possible that we may see them extend through the weekend. And if they can’t get a verdict before the holiday weekend, and they don’t wanna stay through the holiday weekend, they may tell the judge that, “Look, we’ve tried but we just can’t do it.”
Jessica: Yeah, well, I guess we will see. Page Pate, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
Page: Thank you, Jessica.