Judge cites COVID surge in asking Ghislaine Maxwell jury to stay later

The judge presiding over the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell says an “astronomical spike” in the number of coronavirus cases in New York City led her to urge jurors to work longer hours.

“We now face a high and escalating risk that jurors and trial participants may need to quarantine,” Judge Alison Nathan tells lawyers. “We are simply in a different place regarding the pandemic than we were a week ago.”

Late Monday, the judge told jurors they should expect to deliberate until at least 6 pm beginning Tuesday, rather than stopping at 5 pm, as they had earlier.

Last week, she asked jurors to work an extra day as it decides whether Maxwell recruited and groomed teenage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.

Laura Menninger, a defense lawyer, tells Nathan that any suggestion that the jury stay later “is beginning to sound like urging them to hurry up.”

“We would object to trying to urge them to stay later if they are not asking to do so and aren’t expressing any difficulty in proceeding with the deliberations that they are currently undertaking,” Menninger says.

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