The federal judge presiding over the Ghislaine Maxwell trial has asked the jury to deliberate through the holiday weekend, including on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Jan. 2.
The jurors sent a note to Judge Alison Nathan on Wednesday morning at the start of their fifth full day of deliberations, requesting five transcripts of trial testimony and clarification on whether they’d have to sit through the holiday weekend.
Nathan wrote back that they should plan to deliberate on Dec. 31, Jan. 1, and Jan. 2, but said they could raise scheduling conflicts they may have.
“If this schedule presents a substantial hardship for anyone because of unmovable commitments please let Ms. Williams know,” Nathan wrote back, referring to her courtroom deputy.
Nathan added that she did not mean to pressure the jurors with this schedule, and they should take as much time as needed to return a verdict.
On Tuesday, Nathan told jurors and the parties in the case that the strict schedule is necessary because of an “astronomical spike” in COVID-19 cases in the city — and the threat that either a juror or a trial participant may fall ill and need to quarantine.
“Put simply, I conclude that proceeding this way is the best chance to both give the jury as much time as they need and to avoid a mistrial as a result of the omicron variant,” she said.
Jurors said in a note at the end of the day Tuesday that they were “making progress” in their deliberations.
“Our deliberations are moving along, and we are making progress. We are at a good point,” they wrote.
On Wednesday, they requested trial testimony from five witnesses, including some called by Maxwell’s defense.
One of the requested transcripts was for Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist, and expert on “false memories” who testified as an expert witness for the defense.
At trial, Loftus told jurors that people who construct false memories can be just as emotional about them as if the events actually happened.
“Emotion is no guarantee that you’re dealing with an authentic memory,” Loftus said on Dec. 16.
Loftus has testified or consulted in some 300 trials since 1975, including those of Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, Robert Durst, and Ted Bundy.