[Pictured above: Utah attorney, law professor, and former federal judge Paul G. Cassell, who, with Florida attorney Bradley Edwards, have represented females in civil cases against Jeffrey Epstein, including under the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act targeting Epstein's plea bargain in the Florida sex crimes case.]
By Robert Willmann
With more byzantine intrigue than a story by Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie, the sordid and ongoing machinations around the sexual misconduct by "billionaire financier" Jeffrey Epstein against underage girls have fortunately in the last four days broken out of the tightly woven coverup in both the federal criminal justice system and in assorted civil lawsuits through confidential settlements and sealed court papers.
Quietly issued on Wednesday, 3 July 2019, by the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York was a 26-page opinion and decision in a civil case relating to Epstein (although he was not a party to it) that ordered the unsealing and disclosure of around 2,000 pages of documents that were part of a request (motion) for "summary judgment" during the civil lawsuit. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is a procedure in a civil case in which one party tries to get a ruling in its favor on one or more issues in the lawsuit without a trial, because there is no genuine issue of material fact about the particular issue. If no genuine factual dispute exists from the evidence about an issue, there is no need to have a trial to decide the particular fact. Thus, the name: summary judgment. If successful on all issues, a party can succeed and get a final judgment without a trial. It is a procedure done all on paper, with the evidence being documents and other proof and exhibits relating to the written request filed in the court clerk's file. If there is a court hearing on the motion, no new evidence is introduced; it is already in the clerk's file. At such a hearing which is only to the judge, arguments will be made about the summary judgment request and response to it by the lawyers for the parties .
As a further twist in the Epstein matter, the appeal was about attempts to intervene in the case by parties who wanted some of the sealed documents in the lawsuit released, and not about the merits of the lawsuit itself!
Leaving out the chronology of the tangled events starting in 2008 that led up to the appeal just decided, this lawsuit was filed in 2015 in federal court in Manhattan, New York City, by Virginia Giuffre, who claimed she was one of the victims of Epstein. She sued Ghislaine Maxwell, an alleged associate of Epstein, for defamation after Maxwell called Giuffre's claims "untrue" and "obvious lies". Maxwell is the daughter of publisher Robert Maxwell, who died under mysterious circumstances, a story in itself. Ghislaine filed a request for summary judgment against Giuffre, but it was denied by the trial court judge on 22 March 2017, in what the court of appeals said was a "heavily redacted opinion". All of the evidence that was part of the motion for summary judgment remained under seal. On 24 May 2017, Ghislaine and Giuffre reached a settlement agreement and signed it. The case was closed in the trial court the next day, seemingly getting rid of that hot potato.
But it was not to be. On 11 August 2016, while the case was going on, Alan Dershowitz, one of the lawyers who represented Epstein in the Florida criminal case, tried to intervene in the lawsuit and get three documents unsealed that he said would show that accusations made by Giuffre against him were untrue. Then, on 19 January 2017, Michael Cernovich, an Internet website blogger and self-described journalist, sought to intervene and get all of the summary judgment evidence unsealed. On 6 April 2018, the Miami Herald newspaper and its reporter Julie Brown filed a request to intervene and have everything unsealed. The trial judge granted the requests to intervene, but denied them any relief, keeping everything sealed and out of sight. The intervenors appealed, putting the hot potato in the lap of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which said, beginning on page 4–
"Intervenors‐Appellants Alan M. Dershowitz ("Dershowitz"), Michael Cernovich ("Cernovich"), and the Miami Herald Company (with reporter Julie Brown, jointly the "Herald") appeal from certain orders of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Robert W. Sweet, Judge) denying their respective motions to unseal filings in a defamation suit. We conclude that the District Court failed to conduct the requisite particularized review when ordering the sealing of the materials at issue. At the same time, we recognize the potential damage to privacy and reputation that may accompany public disclosure of hard‐fought, sensitive litigation. We therefore clarify the legal tools that district courts should use in safeguarding the integrity of their dockets. Accordingly, we VACATE the District Court’s orders entered on November 2, 2016, May 3, 2017, and August 27, 2018, ORDER the unsealing of the summary judgment record as described further herein, and REMAND the cause to the District Court for particularized review of the remaining sealed materials."
The federal court of appeals opinion is here–
Epstein pled guilty on 30 June 2008 to two Florida state criminal prostitution charges, and as part of the disgraceful, so-called plea bargain, no federal offenses involving sex and sex trafficking with underage girls would be filed against him. Among the lawyers representing Epstein in that case were Kenneth Starr — who had been a federal appeals court judge on the District of Columbia Circuit, Solicitor General in the Justice Department, and was the special prosecutor from 1994-1999 investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton — and Alan Dershowitz, who had taught at Harvard Law School. That original case had gathered steam around 2006 with the Palm Beach Police Department, of Palm Beach County, Florida, investigating, but the department ultimately felt it was being stymied by both state and federal prosecuting authorities and agencies from proceeding with a full prosecution of Epstein's conduct.
However, the result was that no federal charges were filed, and Epstein's state sentence was "work release" in which he went to a special part of the jail in the evening to sleep, and then left the next morning to go to an "office" and "work" for 12 or so hours during the day. This lasted about 13 months. He was required to register as a sex offender under the Florida Sexual Predators Act . The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains an Internet website to search for registered sex offenders . The website page displayed for Epstein includes a sexual offender flyer on him that looks like this–
After Epstein's plea agreement in 2008, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida under the Crime Victims' Rights Act alleging that the plea agreement should be unsealed and perhaps cancelled and set aside, because the requirements of that law were not followed, including keeping the victims informed about the case. On 21 February 2019, at least 10 years after the lawsuit was filed, the federal trial court judge in West Palm Beach, Florida — Kenneth Marra — finally ruled that federal prosecutors had violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act by failing to adequately notify two victims of the plea deal who were in the lawsuit. The appeals court opinion further said, on page 6, footnote, 1: "The District Court has not yet determined the appropriate remedy". But, as you might expect, the Department That Calls Itself Justice continues to maintain that its plea bargain agreement with Epstein was hunky-dory and copacetic, and there is no reason to invalidate it, especially if Congress did not put any specific remedies directed at the government in the Crime Victims' Rights Act.
Suddenly yesterday evening, the landscape changed. Epstein was arrested at an airport in New Jersey when he arrived on a flight from Paris, France. Around 5:30 p.m., witnesses saw FBI agents breaking through the door of his Manhattan, New York residence and executing a search warrant .
A sealed grand jury indictment was probably the basis for the arrest, although it could have been on an arrest warrant supported by an affidavit and complaint. It is reported that Epstein will appear for an initial appearance tomorrow, Monday, 8 July, in a federal court in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
To spice things up, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida involved in the slimy 2007-2008 Epstein plea bargain was none other than Alexander Acosta, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration .
This mockery of criminal procedure and process in the court system started in 2006-2007 and continued to at least last night. Keep that time frame in mind.
Is the new activity under the federal criminal law against Epstein going to be a detailed examination like was done to Paul Manafort? Are they going to look at his past tax returns and examine his banking activity here and abroad?
Or will we witness just another "limited hangout"?
 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 on summary judgment
 The Florida Sexual Predators Act
 Alexander Acosta, a former U.S. Attorney and now Secretary of Labor