FACT CHECK: Does This Telephone Number And Access Code Allow People To Remotely Listen To Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial?

Mecca Fowler | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook and Twitter claims people can listen to an audio feed of Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial by using a specific phone number and access code.

Verdict: False

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York states in a Nov. 29 update that there is no telephone dial-in for audio of Maxwell’s criminal trial.

Fact Check:

The criminal trial of Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and confidant of the deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, began on Monday, BBC News reported. She has been charged with recruiting and grooming underaged girls for sex, to which she has pleaded not guilty, according to NPR.

The meme, which features a photo of Maxwell, reads, “Federal cases are not televised. Use this phone number, 844 721 7237 Access code 9991787. This starts Monday. You can listen to the audio.” (RELATED: Did Ghislaine Maxwell Test Positive For COVID-19 In A New Hampshire Jail?)

Contrary to the image’s claim, the phone number and numerical code will not give people access to an audio feed of Maxwell’s ongoing trial. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York explicitly states in a Nov. 29 update regarding the United States v. Ghislaine Maxwell case: “Beyond the live feeds within the courthouse, the trial will not be further broadcast; nor will there be any telephonic dial-in to the proceedings.”

The phone number and access code featured in the meme come from an Oct. 20 update from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that said reporters and members of the public could use them to access a live audio feed of a telephone conference held by the court Oct. 21 to “discuss jury selection matters.” Prior to Nov. 1, the public had been able to access certain court proceedings in Maxwell’s case using dial-in numbers, a review of updates from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York showed.

A memo from the Office of the District Court Executive stated that starting Nov. 1, there would no longer be public access via telephone for “in-court criminal proceedings, including trials.” The court had “previously provided such access on a case-by-case basis pursuant to the CARES Act due to the substantial restrictions on in-person attendance during much of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but said it would no longer do so effective Nov. 1 “given that the public can now access in-person proceedings relatively freely, and the Court can provide overflow courtrooms as needed,” according to the early November memo.

That memo cited Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53, which states that federal courts “must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.” (RELATED: Does This Image Show ‘Co-Conspirators’ In Ghislaine Maxwell’s Criminal Case?)

The most recent update for Maxwell’s criminal case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York states the court will “ensure public access (with COVID-19 distancing) to the trial in the courtroom itself and in several overflow rooms at the courthouse with live feeds of the proceedings.” That Nov. 29 update also outlines the court’s COVID-19 protocols.

Mecca Fowler



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