The decision, made between both legal teams over the weekend, will be seen as a boost to the British socialite and high-profile associates including Britain’s Prince Andrew. It had been thought the phone directory would be a powerful piece of evidence in the trial, revealing the names of prominent figures in Ms Maxwell and boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein’s circle.
However, just a few pages of the book, labelled “exhibit GX52”, were mentioned during the prosecution’s case after Judge Alison Nathan warned against “needless” name-dropping.
The prosecution agreed that only this small portion of the “black book” should be released as an exhibit under seal – meaning it is only accessible by the two parties and the jury.
“It is not being offered for the truth of the matters asserted therein, and you may not consider it for that purpose,” read a letter from Damian Williams, a US attorney, to Judge Nathan.
“Rather, you may consider it only to the extent you believe it is relevant to show a link, if any, between Ms Maxwell and the names and phone numbers listed and how, if at all, the information was organised.”
A partially redacted copy of Epstein’s black book was leaked to the internet in 2015, revealing the names of nearly 2,000 contacts. Former US president Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and actor Kevin Spacey were among the names. There is no suggestion they are accused of any wrongdoing.
The defence had argued that there was no proof that the book was one of those that Juan Alessi, a former house manager at Epstein’s Florida villa, testified were commonly used by Ms Maxwell and others to book massages and other visits from girls.
The government rested its case on Friday, calling a total of 24 accusers and witnesses. Court was adjourned until Thursday due to a scheduling issue.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyers revealed on Sunday night that they planned to call 35 witnesses, many more than had been expected. The defence has been left to scramble to put together a line-up after the prosecution rested more than a week early.
The defence team told the judge on Friday that they expected their case to last upwards of four days, leaving some to speculate that the case could be wrapped up by Christmas Day – Ms Maxwell’s 60th birthday. That now looks unlikely.
The lawyer Bobbi Sternheim wrote to the judge that some witnesses would be coming from outside the southern district of New York covered by the court and some from “abroad”. She requested that three witnesses be granted the right to testify anonymously.
“The court’s ruling on this issue may impact the willingness of these witnesses to testify, thereby compromising Ms Maxwell’s right to present her defence, and may affect the witness order,” Ms Sternheim wrote.
The prosecution is objecting to the request and complained to the judge that they were only sent a witness list by the defence but not a running order, which has left them unable to prepare.
The government’s case included testimony from friends and family of the women, a psychologist focused on sexual abuse and trauma, and Epstein’s ex-employees.