While the media is hyperfocused (and rightfully so) on the Omicron tsunami and Joe Manchin stabbing President Biden in the back on Build Back Better, there is also news on the legal front. Three major court cases wrapped up last week with each one going to their respective juries on Monday. First up is Ghislaine Maxwell, long time friend and accomplice to Jeffrey Epstein, who is on trial in New York. Next is Kim Potter, former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed a Black motorist, Daunte Wright, claiming she meant to use a taser instead of a gun. Last is Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, who facing a litany of wire fraud charges in Silicon Valley.
GHISLAINE MAXWELL: Ghislaine Maxwell is the longtime friend, and alleged one-time girlfriend, of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell is facing charges related to abuse and trafficking of underage girls in New York. The trial lasted three weeks and at times seems more about convicting Epstein, now deceased after he was found hanged while in jail custody in New York. Prosecutors described Maxwell and Epstein as “partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls together.” During the course of the trial various victims testified, all having similar backgrounds – single parent households, isolated, promised gifts and money. Her grooming was described in vivid and disturbing detail. The defense claimed she was innocent, blaming Epstein for the crimes. Maxwell is facing a six-count indictment for conspiring with and aiding Jeffrey Epstein in his abuse of underage girls between 1994 and 2004. She faces decades in prison.
KIM POTTER: Potter is a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Black motorist Daunte Wright when she claims she intended to use her taser. Her attorney claimed she made an “honest mistake.” Prosecutors showed the jury how different tasers and guns look – by design. From color to handle, weight, to location and securing method on the police duty belt. The incident happened during a routine traffic stop, which we all know is one of the most dangerous interactions a Black man can have with law enforcement. Potter was training a new officer when she shot and killed Wright. A 26 year veteran of the police force, Potter resigned two days after the shooting. The entire shooting was recorded on body cam and the video was shown repeatedly to the jury.
ELIZABETH HOLMES: Elizabeth Holmes is an entrepreneur and founder of the now defunct blood testing company, Theranos. She is facing nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a case that involved her duping investors out of over $900 million dollars based on completely false claims of what her technology could do. Her former business partner and boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwanim was arrested with her in 2018. The trial lasted a very long four months, with testimony from scientists, chief executives and even a four star general. Holmes claims she was “misunderstood” and that she was the victim of Balwanim, who allegedly controlled and manipulated her. The charges stem from false claims she made regarding her blood testing technology, which she stated could revolutionize blood testing and remove the need to draw blood using needles and instead allow for hundreds of diseases and health problems to be diagnosed using just a few drops of blood taken from a finger prick. Unfortunately, this technology does not exist.
Each of these trials wrapped up last week and had closing arguments on Monday of this week. It is not likely that juries will want to go past the holiday weekend, so expect verdicts by this week. If I was a betting woman, I would expect a guilty verdict in 2 and a hung jury in 1. I wont’ say which ones are which, though. I will update here on the site (and share my predictions) as they come in.