Almost two years ago I did something irresponsible.
I filed a lawsuit to unseal documents involving a sex trafficking lawsuit that had been brought against a billionaire.
Watch this video for the full summary:
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in our case.
Please find below links to the oral arguments at the 2nd District yesterday in New York. There are three separate files and I have placed them in the order they were argued:
- Oral argument 1 (Miami Herald v. Maxwell)
Oral argument 2 (Cernovich v. Giuffre – Marc Randazza’s argument)
Oral argument 3 (
Dershowitz v. Giuffree, plus rebuttal to Maxwell).
Here is what happened in the Cernovich case involving Jeff Epstein.
This is tricky and involves a lot of legal nuance, so here’s the summary:
- Lawsuits filed in federal court must be public.
- The lawsuit against Epstein was sealed.
- I sued to unseal the records.
- The judge ruled against me, so I appealed.
- The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press joined my appeal.
- The Miami Herald sued using my legal theory, lost, and appealed.
- In February the Miami Herald and Cernovich will argue in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
- This is expensive and here’s where you can help.
- Here’s the longer story.
- One of Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse victims sued Ghislaine Maxwell, alleging that Maxwell was a madam for a massive international sex-trafficking ring. Read the story here and here.
- Cernovich Media filed a lawsuit to unseal the records. The trial court denied Cernovich’s motion, and we have appealed the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Read my lawsuit here.
- The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a brief in support of Cernovich’s motion.
- Read that here.
- The Miami Recently filed its own lawsuit to obtain the records.
- Miami Herald lawsuit vs. Jeffrey Epstein
- The Parties in this action have made use of the public courts to litigate a claim of intense public interest. They may not do so in secret without a specific finding of compelling interest. Since this has not occurred, and no other interest outweighs the public right of access, Intervenors’ motion should be granted.For over three years, the Miami Herald has reported on and investigated Mr. Epstein and others who were involved in the sexual abuse of underage girls. Recent court filings, both in federal and state court, have raised new allegations about his involvement in a wider sextrafficking ring. The Miami Herald has covered, among other subjects, the initial investigation by the Palm Beach state attorney, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the negotiations between those law enforcement agencies and Mr. Epstein’s legal defense team, and the ultimate decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to sign a non-prosecution agreement that was negotiated in secret and sealed in return for a guilty plea to a lesser state crime. The deal, which was not revealed until well after it was signed and Mr. Epstein was sentenced, resulted in him serving 13 months of an 18-month sentence. He now lives in the U.S. Virgin Islands.The Miami Herald has also reported on civil matters related to the original criminal case against Mr. Epstein, which include the now-settled above-captioned action. Here, the underlying claim is a defamation action brought by Virginia Giuffre (“Ms. Giuffre” or “Plaintiff”) against Ghislaine Maxwell (“Ms. Maxwell” or “Defendant”) on the grounds that Ms. Maxwell, in coordination with Mr. Epstein, “facilitated  sexual abuse” of Ms. Giuffre and “wrongfully subjected Giuffre to public ridicule, contempt and disgrace by…calling Giuffre a liar in published statements.” (ECF. No. 1.) Specifically, Court transcripts in the Giuffre/Maxwell case make several references to Ms. Maxwell being the “madame” of Mr. Epstein’s sex-trafficking enterprise, and to witnesses who may be able to provide evidence of a wider, cross-border sex-trafficking ring.In connection with its ongoing investigation, the Miami Herald has sought to access public court filings that will shed light on the scope of Epstein’s crimes and address serious questions about whether there was any undue influence that tainted the investigation. These include how the Epstein case was disposed of by the criminal justice system, whether victims were treated properly, whether Epstein’s victims were unfairly kept in the dark, whether Epstein was given favorable treatment because of his wealth and status, in short, whether the public interest was served. These questions have yet to be answered because many of the records that could provide responsive information have been sealed. The public, including Epstein’s victims, has the right to know how Mr. Epstein’s case was prosecuted. The law provides the public with the presumption of access in order to hold our legal instutitions accountable and to maintain confidence that they will protect the most vulnerable in our society.
- Ghislaine Maxwell’s response:
- The Miami Herald is late to this closed case. It seeks to intervene in a case that was resolved more than a year ago. And it seeks post facto to examine a relatively few sealed and redacted documents submitted among more than 900 court filings. That is only the beginning of the extraordinary nature of its request. Then there is the Miami Herald’s blithe disregard of the Court’s compelling reasons for permitting the parties to seal materials. This case involved plaintiff’s claim she had been “forced” to be a “child” “sex slave” for a long list of prominent men. She accused Ms. Maxwell of helping to enslave her and, when Ms. Maxwell denied plaintiff’s gratuitously salacious allegations, sued her for “defamation.” During the course of discovery the parties produced or obtained significant information about plaintiff’s alleged sex activities involving dozens of nonparties. While there was no trial and therefore no factual findings, the defense believed its investigation and the discovery significantly undermined, if not disproved, a large number of plaintiff’s sex allegations. Regardless, the case ended with a truce under which neither side had an opportunity to marshal the evidence in her favor to prove her case or to disprove her opponent’s case. Into this truce the Miami Herald wishes to enter to selectively pick through the most salacious, sensitive and prurient information.
- The Miami Herald’s Reply:
- Importantly, the plaintiff (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Giuffre”) in this case – a possible victim of Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell – does not object to unsealing. On the contrary Ms. Giuffre “does not oppose [Proposed Intervenors’] Motion to Intervene and Unseal to the extent it seeks to unseal all docket entries, and not simply select entries, including the unsealing of all trial designated deposition transcripts.” Plaintiff’s Response to Proposed Intervenors Julie Brown and Miami Herald Media Company’s Motion to Intervene and Unseal (ECF No. 945) (“Guiffre Response”), at 3. Plaintiff’s position alleviates the Court’s concern, expressed in its previous denial of Michael Cernovich’s motion to intervene and unseal (ECF Nos. 550-52) (the “Cernovich Motion”), that disclosure of sensitive information “involving allegations of sexual abuse and trafficking of minors” would harm Plaintiff. (ECF Nos. 892 at 9.).Finally, the Court’s second reason for denying the Cernovich Motion – the ongoing status of the litigation – is no longer an issue since the case has settled. Respondent Maxwell attempts to characterize Proposed Intervenors’ motion as “too-late,” but ignores that previous motions to unseal were denied precisely because litigation was ongoing. See id., (“because we are mere weeks from assembling a jury for trial, the importance of leaving these materials protected by the Protective Order outweighs any public interest in their publication at this time.”). Proposed Intervenors’ motion is not untimely. Now, especially so with the support of Plaintiff, is the appropriate time to unseal this docket. This will allow the Miami Herald to continue to report on matters of clear public interest and give the public the opportunity to learn more about how wealthy and powerful men are able to act as sexual predators with little or no consequence.
- The Miami Herald’s latest brief in the lawsuit is here.