The judge presiding over the Ghislaine Maxwell trial is considering asking jurors to deliberate continuously until a verdict is reached, thanks to the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
“We are very simply at a different place regarding the pandemic than we were a week ago,” Judge Alison Nathan told prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case Tuesday morning.
“There is a high and escalating risk that jurors and/or trial participants may need to quarantine,” she added.
The jurist asked jurors to deliberate an extra hour Tuesday because of the COVID concerns.
But because of the daily risk of exposure, Nathan added, she may ask the 12-person panel to “make plans to continue deliberating until a verdict is reached.”
She will ask both prosecutors and defense attorneys their thoughts about the request before asking the jury to do so, she said.
On Monday, Nathan asked the jury to plan to stay until 6 p.m. each day until they’ve reached a verdict in the case, an hour later than what was previously scheduled.
“Of course, by this I don’t mean to pressure you in any way. You should take all the time that you need,” she told the jurors at the end of the day.
Tuesday is the fourth full day of deliberations for the panel of six men and six women. They’ve deliberated for some 26 hours after first getting the case on Dec. 20.
The panel has sent a number of notes to the judge during their deliberations, requesting everything from testimony transcripts to office supplies.
On Monday, they asked for clarification on evidence they can take into account while deciding if Maxwell is guilty of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
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Nathan referred the jury to the legal instructions she gave them when they first began deliberations.
The jury also asked for a number of office supplies to aid in their deliberations on Monday, including Post-it notes, highlighters and whiteboard paper.
Maxwell is on trial for allegedly recruiting and enticing several girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse from 1994 to 2004. She faces a maximum of 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts.