Oh we are so smug. Russian Dissident Alexi Navalny, arguably poisoned by Russian President for Life Vlad "the poisoner" Putin, languishes in a Russian prison, recently on a hunger strike and we- the United States of America- shake our head in disgust. "Thank goodness for our enlightened legal system" we say over our second cup of coffee whilst reading the NY Times.
Protests in Hong Kong are ruthlessly put down. Chinese business leaders cower in fear of Chinese Premier for Life Xi Jinping, who with a snap of the fingers or nod of the head can have a person or an ethnic group imprisoned and executed.
The leader of North Korea shoots his families enemies with missiles. "That's what happens in a totalitarian state" we mutter before heading back into court and denying bail for yet another person.
Case in point- in a post last week we bemoaned that the world came for former officer Derrick Chauvin in Minnesota and wondered who was next? It was right there in front of us all along- reviled defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, wasting away from sleep deprivation and prison guard humiliation in the Southern District of
North Korea New York.
"We are being told to believe the women who say they were exploited in this case, and yet the government says 'don't believe Ghislaine Maxwell' " (or words to that effect) argued our own David Markus to the Second Circuit Court of appeals last week. The argument was brilliant. It pushed the appellate court to believe or not believe a woman, which is the heart of the government's case. A nifty piece of legal judo.
Let's take a deeper dive. Ms. Maxwell is charged essentially with recruiting women for Jeffrey Epstein to exploit. Almost as bad as sitting with a knee on the neck of George Floyd. But Mr. Epstein is dead, so arguably Ms. Maxwell is no longer a danger to the community. She has surrendered her passports. Signed over real estate in other countries. Offered to hire private security guards, all so she can get a decent night's sleep in an apartment. Electronic monitoring. Check. Drone and satellite surveillance. Check. You name it, her legal team has agreed to it.
And yet, Putin and JinPing like, the authorities hold Ms. Maxwell in a dank, brightly lit cell where guards shine lights in her eyes every fifteen minutes. And this has gone on for months and months. "Put a sock in it or over it" is the government's only response. That, and in this world where satellites can read the labels on the cans of food Kim Jong-Un eats, the government worries that it will not be able to bring back Ms. Maxwell if she flees to Newark, or Paris, or Lower Matacumbe Key.
Do not think for one moment this is about risk of flight. This is about torturing a defendant pretrial into surrendering and making her plea guilty. This is about the embarrassment of the federal Bureau of Prisons that allowed Mr. Epstein to kill himself or be murdered. This is about the embarrassment of NY society that hobnobbed with Epstein and Maxwell. Prince Andrew. Presidents Trump and Clinton could socialize with Ms. Maxwell safely, but now she is a danger if she is allowed out of prison to get a hot dog from a street vendor (we love the onions sautéed in ketchup).
There is no presumption of innocence for Ms. Maxwell. The government has gone out of its way to make sure she cannot adequately prepare for trial. 2.7 million documents in discovery should be easy to review for a woman who has to sleep with a sock over her eyes.
They are coming for Ghislaine Maxwell because of the public outrage over the accusations against her. And Putin and JinPing the BOP and the US Attorneys are going to get what they want -her continued incarceration and torture. Yes we are so smug about our legal system . It treats defendants so much better than other countries. Have another cup of coffee with our smugness.
And put a sock over it.