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Media coalition seeks access to jury selection records in Ghislaine Maxwell criminal case

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  1. Court Access

Update: On Oct. 21, 2021, the federal district court for the Southern District of New York denied Ghislaine Maxwell’s request to seal jury selection records in her criminal case. The judge ordered the parties to file the records on the public docket. Additionally, in response to a motion made by Maxwell for sequestered jury selection, the court made clear that individual questioning of prospective jurors would take place in open court. The court explained that although each prospective juror would be questioned outside the presence of the rest of the jury pool, the public would be permitted to observe each juror’s questioning from a separate room in the courthouse with a live feed. The court also stated that it would allow two members of the press pool to attend juror questioning in person, while other in-house members of the press will have the ability to observe juror questioning via a live feed from a separate room. The court took care to say that, in reaching its decision, it had considered the public’s First Amendment right of access to criminal proceedings.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 17 media organizations are urging a federal district court in New York to deny Ghislaine Maxwell’s request to seal jury selection records in the high-profile criminal case against her.

Maxwell, who is facing federal felony charges for allegedly conspiring with Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse young women and girls, is trying to shield jury selection proceedings from the public.

In a letter sent to Judge Alison J. Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Oct. 20, 2021, Reporters Committee attorneys argue that “both the common law and the First Amendment afford the public a qualified right of access to criminal proceedings.”

The media coalition’s letter urges the court to order the parties to publicly file jury selection records in the case.

The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.