Press freedom advocates win victory in case arising from Epstein sexual abuse charges

Updated Aug. 9, 2018 – The Second Circuit denied a pending petition for rehearing  filed by Ghislaine Maxwell in the case of Giuffre v. Maxwell.  Immediately after entering the order, the Court began unsealing the material.

July 8, 2019 – Press freedom advocates won an important victory on July 3, when the Second Circuit vacated a lower court’s order and instructed the court to conduct “a particularized review” of sealed judicial records in the case of Giuffre v. Maxwell, a case arising out of the allegations of serial sexual assault and sexual abuse of minors by financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The NewsGuild joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and more than 30 other press freedom organizations in filing a “friend of the court” brief on Dec. 17, 2018, in support of the efforts by the Miami Herald and reporter Julie Brown to unseal the records.

The district court had denied the Herald’s motion to unseal the underlying case, a defamation lawsuit brought by one of the alleged victims of sex trafficking by Epstein.  The  brief highlighted the importance of public access to judicial records, arguing that the district court erred in dismissing the significant public interest in the records of this case.  It also argued that the district court should have done an individualized right-of-access analysis on each judicial record, rather than authorizing blanket sealing and redaction.