Since United States District Court Judge Loretta Preska signed an order on December 18 ordering the unsealing of documents related to Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s clients that were produced in a civil case brought against the madam by Virginia Giuffre, there’s been great anticipation for those documents to be made public. It was thought that they would start being released on Tuesday, January 2, the first workday after the judge’s 14-day stay to allow for appeals, but the day came and went without a single document being released.
Preska issued an order Wednesday, January 3, reciting the status of the case and stating that the parties have informed her that documents will start being uploaded to the docket “today.”
So, why the delay?
It turns out that Doe 107, who appears to be a woman living in a foreign country, appealed the judge’s ruling on December 20, and on December 21 Judge Preska issued a memo order giving Doe 107’s attorney until January 22 to provide information related to her contention that she would be at risk of physical harm if the documents identifying her were unsealed.
Doe 107’s request for a 30-day extension is approved. Doe 107 shall, by January 22, 2024, submit to the Court for in camera review an affidavit (1) supporting her assertion that she faces a risk of physical harm in her country of residence and (2) providing detail concerning the hate mail she has received. Doe 107’s counsel may also provide by this date any additional factual support for Doe 107’s contention that unsealing the relevant records would put her at risk of physical harm.
That memo order was also added to the docket in PACER on December 21, 2023, so it’s odd that major news organizations were still anticipating records to be unsealed/released on January 2, 2024.
Of course, the order granting Doe 107’s request to have time to file an affidavit related to her individual circumstances wouldn’t necessarily impact other “does” in the case, but it seems there might have been some confusion about whether the rest of the documents should be unsealed and released.
It’s also important to recognize that Preska’s December 18 order didn’t anticipate that the relevant records would all be immediately ready to be released on January 2. From the order:
The Court reiterates here its previous recitation of the applicable law and descriptions of the unsealing process set out in the transcripts dated January 19, 2021 (dkt. no. 1196), July 1, 2021 (dkt. no. 1220), April 19, 2022 (dkt. no. 1254), and November 18, 2022 (dkt. no. 1283). The following are the Courts findings as to the Does designated following its particularized review of the documents noted: as set forth herein. The Court stays its order for fourteen days to permit any impacted Doe the opportunity to appeal, after which counsel are asked to confer, prepare the documents for unsealing pursuant to this order, and post the documents on the docket. SO ORDERED.
Doe 107 wasn’t specifically named in the December 18 order, so she and her attorney weren’t sure if she was an “impacted Doe” or not, which could have also led to confusion about unsealing/releasing of documents.
And, we’ve now learned that a second person, Doe 110, has sought to have documents with their name remain under seal. So, records outlined in the December 18 Order will start being filed in the docket, with the exception of those relating to Does 107 and 110.
The full text of Preska’s January 3 filing reads:
ORDER: On December 18, 2023, the Court entered an order (dkt. no. 1315) summarizing its findings following a particularized review of the documents noted therein and immediately staying its order for fourteen days to allow any impacted Doe an opportunity to appeal. The Court received inquiries from two Does seeking to remain under seal. The first of these two Does is Doe 107, whom the Court granted an extension of time until January 22, 2024, to submit support for her assertion that unsealing would cause her physical harm. (See dkt. no. 1318.) The second inquiry was submitted by Doe 110 and is currently under review by the Court. With the exception of the documents relating to these Does, the parties have informed the Court that they will begin filing the unsealed records outlined in this Court’s December 18 Order later today. The Court will render its determination on the documents relating to Does 107 and 110 in due course. SO ORDERED.