Two of Ghislaine Maxwell’s attorneys were seen visiting her in jail on Friday, reportedly making Epstein’s suspected “madam” the first federal inmate in New York City to be granted permission for an in-person visit since the coronavirus pandemic started in early March. Mask-wearing defence attorney Christian Everdell was spotted at the jail’s entrance on Friday morning alongside a woman from the suspect’s legal team, the New York Daily News reported.
The media outlet cited sources as saying this was the first instance of an inmate having received a legal visit since the coronavirus measures were introduced and that the meeting lasted nearly four hours.
Attorney Sean Hecker, who has filed a lawsuit seeking to restore defence attorneys’ access to their clients, denounced the visit to British media mogul Robert Maxwell’s daughter as “absurd and unjust”.
“We've been litigating for the Fed Defenders of NY to obtain a safe, in-person visiting option for many months. MDC detainees have been waiting up to 6 months for such visits. And BOP-MDC decides that the 1st such visit should go to a wealthy British socialite? Absurd & unjust”, Hecker tweeted.
He said he had learned from another source that 58-year-old Maxwell, who has been kept in a Brooklyn detention centre in solitary confinement since her arrest in early July, was the first prisoner to be granted in-person access to her attorneys.
“It is outrageous that the first in-person visit would be granted to a well-heeled British socialite who the president of the United States stated that he wished well”, he told CNBC.
“It only serves to confirm that our government doesn’t understand that they operate two different systems of justice, one for the well-heeled and well-connected, and one for everyone else”.
Hecker said officials had for some time been considering allowing inmates visits from their attorney again, but they are likely to be limited to one-hour talks from one lawyer, whereas Maxwell was purportedly permitted to speak to two at once for hours.
The Bureau of Prisons didn’t confirm whether Maxwell was the first inmate to have been granted an in-person visit, stressing that coronavirus protocols remain in place.
“While, in general, legal visits are suspended, case-by-case accommodations will be accomplished at the local level and confidential legal calls will be allowed in order to ensure inmates maintain access to counsel”, a spokesperson told the paper, adding that attorney-client talks, as well as judicial proceedings are currently facilitated primarily via video conference.
The visit to Maxwell came days after the British socialite was denied a request to be moved out of her solitary cell after lawyers argued she was unable to properly study her case and prepare for trial under 24/7 surveillance. Separately, she was denied bail, with the prosecution citing a "high flight risk".
The socialite earlier complained via her lawyers about the “uniquely onerous” conditions she has been kept in, including surveillance by increased numbers of prison personnel and psychologists, who she said were monitoring whether she has a suicidal predisposition. She was taken off suicide watch earlier this month, but is being searched multiple times each day, her lawyers said.
Maxwell was nabbed on 2 July in her New Hampshire hideaway on charges that she had assisted her former lover and good friend, convicted paedophile Jeffery Epstein, in the sexual abuse of minors between 1994 and 1997, procured alleged sex slaves for him, as well as lied under oath in earlier testimonies. She has pleaded not guilty to the total of six federal charges. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years behind bars, with court proceedings preliminarily slated for next summer.