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Maximum Maxwell Day 5 Told From The Inside by Matthew Russell Lee, #CourtCaseCast Art Part 2

By Matthew Russell Lee, Author on Patreon Song Ruling
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SDNY COURTHOUSE, Dec 4 -- It was Day 5 of the Maxwell trial but Day 1 of Maximum Maxwell, at least for Kurt Wheelock. As he got out of the subway and into Foley Square the media melee was lighter in front of 40 Foley.

  At the side door on Pearl Street a dozen photographers still waited, for the now ubiquitous shot of Ghislaine's lawyers in their masks. It was the biggest trial of their lives and some were blowing it.


  Everdell, for one, was like a boxer with good footwork but no punch. He would dance around the witness, asking what seemed like preliminary questions like, Do you remember testifying to such-and-such on direct?

  But when he got the Yes, there seemed to be plan, no impeachment, no gotcha moment. People no longer watched Perry Mason much, except on free Pluto TV and maybe overseas. But this was no Perry Mason.


  Instead, there were endless arguments about photographs of sex toys and a godchild, with the jury waiting in their room outside of 318, eating snacks. At least that's how one imagined them, since Judge Nathan at the mid-morning and mid-afternoon break said, "The snack are here." Someone asked Kurt online if the judge was heavyset. While not a rhetorical question since there were no camera, it still seemed mean spirited. Kurt hastened to reply that the snacks were not for the judge but for the jury. He'd seen the judge out of the courtroom and there was more to say on that: #MaximumMaxwell.


  The actual trial day started with house manager Juan Alessi getting grilled about having stolen money from Epstein, in 100 dollar bills from a white envelope in his study. He came in through the study window, in a tweak to the Beatles song. But they just wouldn't leave it alone. Hadn't he told the Palm Beach police back then that he'd also wanted to take a gun? That the money was for immigration papers for his girlfriend?


  "She's not my girlfriend!" Alessi said. But that seemed to admit too much.


  It made Kurt think of the rapper Tekashi 69's driver, who first appeared in that trial as part of the video of Harv Ellison car-jacking 69. Later it turned out he had turned into a cooperator, having been threatened by the US Attorney's Office with deportation. Many in the gallery, and those Kurt was tweeting to online in his first hype trial here, seemed to sympathize with the driver. What would you have done in his place?


  But washing the juices off the sex toys, like Alessi? Driving Ghislaine around Palm Beach looking for fresh meat for Jeffrey? It was not, as they say, relatable. And so while Alessi's direct testimony had scored points, it was possible the lead was entirely given back on the cross.


   At the lunch break - more than snacks - Kurt ran the half block to the US Attorney's office. They were doing a press conference but not about Maximum Maxwell. No, new US Attorney Damian Williams was announcing a civil rights investigation of the police department not of New York City, as some would have wanted, but suburban Mount Vernon. Kurt had reported on a few Mount Vernon case, a drug gang that shot a kid, a gypsy cab driver who'd joined Uber and gotten jacked like 69 only with less coverage, and it seemed plausible that the cops there beat suspects up and planted evidence on them.


  But Damian Williams was portraying it only as a heroic move by New Justice under Merrick Garland and himself. Perhaps. But what about the defendants his SDNY office, and DOJ more broadly, had prosecuted and incarcerated with tainted evidence from corrupt local police departments?


   When the Q&A came Kurt stuck up his hand. This was what he missed most about the UN, not just the free booze and food of the diplomatic parties, but the ability to shout out questions at the Security Council stakeout and, as if by right, in the briefing room (until they'd stopped calling on him and made him shout them, the beginning of the end).


  The big media were serviced and then there was only Kurt. And so he was called on and asked his question: would any convictions be re-opened, or prosecutions paused, during the pendency of the investigation?


  Damian Williams looked surprised by the question, though it could be that Kurt was only fooling himself. "That's a question for another day," Damian Williams said.


  There's no day like today, Kurt thought. On his way back to 40 Foley he ran into Federal Defender William Kandisky, who he knew from the Belt and Roadkill case, and told him about the Mount Vernon announcement. Kankinsky said they'd check the cases of their Mount Vernon cases and maybe try to re-open them,less certainly tell Kurt about it if he didn't find the motions to re-open on PACER.


 For now back on PACER in the press room, Kurt found more Mount Vernon cases to supplement the ones he'd written about. When he had time, he vowed, after #MaximumMaxwell, he'd look up and into cases in the other three cities the Assistant Attorney General had mentioned, all bigger than Mount Vernon: Phoenix, Louisville and Minneapolis. Perhaps there would be a #MaximumMinneapolis.


  The afternoon's witnesses where Palm Beach police, one current and one retired, about the search of Epstein's home. But AUSA Maurene Comey insisted on making all the photos they took during the search be sealed exhibits. Kurt spoke up, even to a colleague at the break: how was the public supposed to have any confidence in the jury's verdict, either way it went, if they didn't know what the jury had heard and seen?


  A reader wrote in and asked Kurt why it was he dared think that Ghislaine might be found not guilty. Kurt wasn't sure he thought that. He just didn't appreciate spending six weeks covering something whose outcome was entirely known. And anyway, he'd just seen a Corrections Office from the now empty MCC, where Jeffrey Epstein died, found not guilty of having demanded sex from an inmate's girlfriend when he caught her trying to bring in drugs. Maybe that victim hadn't seemed sympathetic to the jury. Would these?


   Some photos, however, were put into public evidence, include a sex toy called the Torpedo, flashed on the screen in the courtroom and then gone. Then they bought out the physical massage table, the one said to have been found with semen stains on it. It was set up in the courtroom and there were some muffled laughs. Readers came at Kurt - how dare they laugh? Who's laughing? But wasn't here to out anyone. Or, that would be for #MaximumMaxwell.


  The last witness was on for very little time, a stipulation having been reach so that he could fly back to Palm Beach at the end of the day. Did he remember investigating the reported burglary at Epstein's house, and interviewing Alessi about it? He did. The defense argument seemed to be, cash and guns - who's the criminal here? But a massive sex trafficking and spying conspiracy, involving payoffs to and blackmail of the biggest politicians of the time? #MaximumMaxwell.

And so it continued.  Click here for Patreon and more (2d).

Note: On October 29, 2021 and again on November 12 Ghislaine Maxwell and the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York filed a flurry of motions in limine, heavily redacted; the Government argued that trial exhibits are not public and will be withheld. Inner City Press opposed and opposes the continued secrecy.

Inner City Press will cover the trial, and all the comes before and after it; #CourtCaseCast and song I, Song 2, Song 3, fifth song and now Nov 27 song

The underlying case is US v. Maxwell, 20-cr-330 (Nathan).


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material including Maximum Maxwell, and other Maximum, on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.

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