The juror who threw the verdict of Ghislaine Maxwell into question is expected to plead the Fifth in an evidentiary hearing next week, while prosecutors in the case are planning to offer him immunity to compel his testimony, according to reports.
The New York Post reported Wednesday that lawyers for juror no. 50, who is known by his first and middle names as Scotty David, filed a letter to the federal court in the Southern District of New York informing the court that he would exercise his Fifth Amendment right and not answer questions in a hearing set to take place next week.
“I write to inform the Court that Juror 50 will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination at the hearing,” David’s attorney Todd Spodek wrote in the letter, as quoted by the New York Post.
In response, prosecuting attorneys issued a response to the letter, saying that the U.S. government would grant the witness immunity from prosecution in order to compel him to testify. “The Government writes to notify the Court that it is in the process of seeking internal approval to seek an order, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 6002 and 6003, compelling Juror 50’s testimony at the hearing,” prosecutors wrote, adding that they would submit a formal order to the court once the internal review had been conducted, ahead of the date of the hearing.
Shortly after the juror’s letter was filed, prosecutors wrote that they will seek to compel his testimony under two federal statutes, including one offering immunity. https://t.co/C9S6VRkqZS pic.twitter.com/4pCFmqeZCI
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) March 2, 2022
The Associated Press confirmed that reporting.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits defendants from being “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” But under the laws cited by prosecutors, a judge can sign an order compelling the witness to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Maxwell’s lawyers sought a new trial after David gave interviews to several news outlets confessing that he had been a victim of sexual abuse when he was a boy. David told Reuters in January that his experience helped to sway the jury toward a guilty verdict. He further told the outlet that he “flew through” the written jury questionnaire, and he did not remember being asked about his sexual assault during follow-up questioning, though he claimed he would have answered honestly. But court records showed that jurors were asked in the questionnaire whether they had been sexually assaulted or whether they knew someone who had been sexually assaulted.
Judge Nathan denied the request for a new trial, but instead called for the juror to testify under oath in the March 8 hearing, expressing concern that David’s interviews called the validity of the verdict into question. “Juror 50’s post-trial statements are ‘clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence that a specific, nonspeculative impropriety’—namely, a false statement during jury selection—has occurred,” she wrote in a court ruling filed last week. “To be clear, the potential impropriety is not that someone with a history of sexual abuse may have served on the jury,” Nathan added. “Rather, it is the potential failure to respond truthfully to questions during the jury selection process that asked for that material information so that any potential bias could be explored.”
Maxwell was found guilty on December 29, 2021, on five of six counts, after she trafficked young girls for billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.