Federal Appeals Court to Rehear Epstein Victims’ Claims on Plea Deal

first_img“The majority concludes that our court is constrained to leave the victims ‘empty handed,’ and it is up to Congress to ‘amend the [CVRA] to make its intent clear,’ ‘’ Hull wrote. “Not true. The empty result here is only because our court refuses to enforce a federal statute as Congress wrote it. The CVRA is not as impotent as the majority now rewrites it to be.“Given the undisputed facts that the U.S. Attorney’s Office [in Miami] completed its investigation, drafted a 53-page indictment, and negotiated for days with Epstein’s defense team, the office egregiously violated federal law and the victims’ rights by not conferring one minute with them [or their counsel] before striking the final [non-prosecution agreement] deal granting federal immunity to Epstein and his co-conspirators,” Hull concluded.Wild’s petition, which was filed last October, challenged U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra’s decision that she and others were not eligible for any major relief, even though he actually concluded that federal prosecutors violated the rights of Epstein’s victims by not informing them about his non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.She and another plaintiff, known as Jane Doe 2, wanted Marra to restore the originally planned federal sex-trafficking charges against Epstein, but he refused.Marra said he did not have the authority to order federal prosecutors in South Florida to move forward with charges, even before Epstein’s death.In his September ruling, Marra left open the possibility that certain requests from the victims could be fulfilled.For example, they sought to meet with prosecutors about why the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida did not seek a sex trafficking indictment against Epstein 2008, and why the case status was kept secret from them.Epstein was found dead in his New York prison cell last August, as he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. A federal appeals court decided last Friday to reconsider claims that prosecutors in Florida violated the rights of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex abuse victims by not informing them about a secret plea deal.The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Atlanta, vacated a previous panel’s 2-1 decision last April that had rejected an effort to reverse an agreement federal prosecutors made with Epstein in 2008.According to The Miami Herald, it was discovered that former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who resigned from his position last July, cut a deal with Epstein that kept him out of prison when Acosta was a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida.Despite its ruling in April, the three-judge panel had called the South Florida prosecutors’ deal with Epstein “beyond scandalous” and a “national disgrace.”The three judges had rejected Courtney Wild’s petition to convince federal prosecutors in South Florida to charge Epstein on the grounds that the federal officials violated Wild’s and other victims’ rights when they cut a secret deal with him behind their backs. Instead, prosecutors allowed Epstein to plead guilty to solicitation charges in state court in Palm Beach County.“I had confidence this day would come,” Wild said in a statement through her lawyers. “We have fought for 12 years, and as I’ve said before, no matter how many obstacles pile up, we will never give up fighting for what is right.”Her lawyers are vowing to get Epstein’s “secret” plea deal with South Florida prosecutors thrown out.“This is an important ruling for crime victims, not just for Epstein’s victims but all victims of federal crimes,” Wild’s lawyers, Paul Cassell and Brad Edwards, said. “We look forward to arguing before the full Eleventh Circuit that [the] ‘secret’ plea deal violates the Crime Victims’ Rights Act and that this particular deal should be rescinded.”The three-judge appellate panel had previously ruled that since prosecutors never brought charges against Epstein in the federal court in South Florida, his victims were not legally allowed to seek relief under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.“Despite our sympathy for Ms. Wild and others like her, who suffered unspeakable horror at Epstein’s hands, only to be left in the dark — and, so it seems, affirmatively misled — by government lawyers, we find ourselves constrained to deny her petition,” Judge Kevin Newsom wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Judge Gerald Tjoflat.The panel’s decision was then appealed to the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because of a sharply critical dissent by the third panelist, Judge Frank Hull.MIAMI HERALD: Appeals court to reconsider whether Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal was legal— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) August 7, 2020last_img

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