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Ghislaine Maxwell Appeals from Prison for More Time in Fight with Epstein Estate

Ghislaine Maxwell, once a jet-setting socialite accustomed to life’s greatest luxuries, is struggling to find the funds to pay an attorney to represent her in her lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein’s estate, or the resources to represent herself, according to documents filed Tuesday in V.I. Superior Court.

Ghislaine Maxwell (Brooklyn Police Department photo)
Ghislaine Maxwell (Brooklyn Police Department photo)

Maxwell, 61, Epstein’s onetime girlfriend, confidante, and business manager, is currently serving a 20-year sentence at the federal women’s prison in Tallahassee, Florida, after her conviction on sex-trafficking charges in December 2021 in Manhattan federal court.

When charged in connection with Epstein’s scheme following his death by apparent suicide in August 2019 while he was in federal custody in New York on sex-trafficking charges, Maxwell sued his estate in Virgin Islands court, alleging he and his co-executors had promised to pay for any legal expenses she might incur because of his actions, and that Epstein had pledged, orally and in writing, to always take care of her.

Maxwell is also appealing her sex-trafficking conviction, claiming juror misconduct but also that she was covered by Epstein’s controversial non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors when he pled guilty to procuring a minor for prostitution in that state in 2008.

Epstein’s estate last month sought to dismiss her suit, claiming she had not responded to a 60-day deadline set in March to find new counsel or represent herself pro se. However, documents filed Tuesday show that Maxwell did indeed respond — in May — but the mail, sent through the U.S. Postal Service, did not arrive at St. Thomas until Oct. 3.

In her filing dated May 16, Maxwell details the hurdles of trying to navigate both her appeal and her lawsuit from the confines of prison while apparently broke. The daughter of late media mogul Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell was accustomed to great wealth for most of her life. However, after his apparent drowning death in 1991 from his yacht off the Canary Islands, he was found to have embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from the Mirror Group pension fund and the Maxwell companies filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992.

“Plaintiff is seeking New Counsel as she is aware it is preferable for all parties to be represented for efficiency and for judicial economy,” Maxwell wrote in her brief to the court. “Plaintiff faces challenges finding New Counsel as many potential candidates are conflicted and Plaintiff is facing financial constraints. All incarcerated people have communication challenges, as Plaintiff does. Her situation is not unique but for the courts [sic] consideration, it bears noting that Plaintiff has no ability to write snail mail, E Mail, or call any potential new attorney with client attorney privilege. Communications with client attorney privilege are permitted with attorneys of record. Communications with others require pre approval which lends itself to potential delays for approval. Plaintiff is seeking a stay because of the extra time she needs, due to the particular challenges elucidated, to find and communicate with potential new Counsel,” she said.

In the event she cannot find new counsel, Maxwell said she is prepared to represent herself but is seeking a 180-day stay of the proceedings while she prepares.

“The court may not be aware that Plaintiff has no access to a computer to type any document per court norms, expectations and requirements, no internet access to do research, and no consistent or reliable use of a flat surface to write on,” Maxwell told the court. “There has been no photocopying machine available for Inmates since November 5th, 2022 in Plaintiff’s current place of incarceration. Access to a printer is not consistent and random events interfere with daily prison life and are a regular occurrence making meaningful planning or execution of work challenging, she wrote.

“Further, once under the aegis of BOP an inmate enters a veritable technological black hole where Prison computers, that allow legal research on a closed system, give the appearance of working on an old DOS program and additional research is conducted through antiquated legal books and the use of a typewriter or pen and paper which is available for taking notes, taking those incarcerated back in time to a period Pre 1980’s,” said Maxwell.

“In addition, however, Plaintiff has no access to relevant Virgin Island law which she was told she would have to purchase separately. Plaintiff is respectfully requesting more time to allow her to research legal arguments, purchase and have delivered to her up to date relevant legal books, prepare and locate various documents, all with the intention to avoid delays, to promote judicial economy going forward should she be unable to find New Counsel and continue before this court PRO SE,” Maxwell wrote.

According to an exhibit attached to her brief, Maxwell in April asked the prison for access to Virgin Islands case law but was denied. While prisons must establish a main law library, “the Bureau is not mandated to provide state case law and/or other state legal materials. Pursuant to Program Statement 5266.11, Incoming Publications, you may purchase legal materials from outside the institution,” a prison attorney wrote in response to her request.

The Epstein estate’s co-executors, Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn, filed a previous motion to dismiss the suit in May 2020, adding a supplemental brief in support of their request in August 2022, essentially arguing that the estate should not be made to pay for Maxwell’s wrongdoing. On Sept. 19, they asked the court to dismiss her suit for failure to prosecute.

“[C]ourts around the country hold that indemnification for individuals convicted of criminal behavior violates public policy because it would promote illegality and allow wrongdoers to cause intentional injury with impunity. Courts should not encourage intentional criminal wrongdoing by allowing a party to escape all financial consequences for those acts,” the brief stated.

Indyke and Kahn also claim that they are unable to complete the estate’s probate proceedings while the lawsuit remains unresolved.

Maxwell claimed in her complaint that she worked for Epstein from about 1999 through at least 2006, managing his properties in New York, Paris, Florida, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and that he promised verbally and in writing that he would support her financially.

“In approximately 2001, Maxwell began transitioning to a more limited employment role for Epstein and his affiliated businesses. In approximately 2004, Maxwell received a typewritten letter from Epstein with a handwritten note asking Maxwell to remain in Epstein’s employ and promising that no matter what Maxwell chose to do, Epstein would always support Maxwell financially,” her lawsuit stated.

Epstein’s primary residence was Little St. James off St. Thomas, where for years he trafficked in girls and young women and ran a complex web of shell companies registered in the USVI that enabled his crimes, the V.I. government alleged in its suit against his estate that was settled for $105 million in November.

The wealthy financier was valued at more than $577 million at the time of his death.

His victims have alleged that Maxwell played an integral role in his sex trafficking scheme by actively recruiting and grooming young women for him and his powerful friends and at times, taking part in the abuse herself.

While Maxwell argued at her 2021 trial that she was being punished for Epstein’s actions, Judge Alison Nathan of Manhattan federal court disagreed, stating at her sentencing in June 2022 that “Miss Maxwell is not punished in place of Epstein … Miss Maxwell is being punished for the role she played.”

Maxwell was represented in her suit against Epstein’s estate by Miami firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer until they filed a motion to withdraw from the case in August 2022, citing a lack of payment. The court granted their request and stayed the case for 60 days so Maxwell could find new counsel, with another 60-day extension ordered in March.

The court had not responded to Maxwell’s filing as of Wednesday.

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