The judge in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial asked jurors to sit every day until a verdict is handed down.
Judge Alison Nathan said the measures were to avoid a mistake in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Juries are handling six charges of child sex trafficking and have been for nearly 30 hours.
The judge, who oversees Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial on child sex trafficking, told jurors Tuesday that she wants them to sit every day until sentencing for rising COVID-19 Omicron cases in New York.
“I have to demand deliberations every day until they reach a verdict,” U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan told the court because of the “highly contagious Omicron variant.”
Judge Nathan had also requested that the juries be formed at 6 p.m. 18 every day, but juries rejected the request and asked to meet only until 6 p.m. 17, which the judge accepted.
She also reminded jurors of COVID-19 protocols such as wearing N-95 and KN-95 masks and social distancing. She said the measures were to ensure there would be no error test in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
In court, Judge Nathan had previously told jurors they would have free Thursday and Friday due to New Year, but on Tuesday she left out the possibility of including weekend hearings if a verdict did not fall before then.
Jury members began considering Ghislaine Maxwell’s fate on December 21 and decided whether she would be convicted or acquitted of six charges in her child sex trafficking trial.
Prosecutors have accused Maxwell of dealing with girls with Jeffrey Epstein and of sexually abusing them himself. The charges in the indictment focus on activity between 1997 and 2004 and relate to misconduct against four prosecutors who were as young as 14 at the time.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Judge Nathan handed the charges to jurors on December 21 after concluding arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys.
The closing arguments concluded three weeks of testimony with only two days to the defense – far shorter than the six weeks the lawyers had originally expected.
Here is a summary of the charges, including what jurors must agree on in order to convict or acquit Maxwell of each charge.
You can read Nathan’s complete instructions for jurors here.
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