Legal Law

BBC: Who Higher To Break Down Ghislaine Maxwell Verdict Than… Man Accused In The Identical Matter? – Above the Regulation

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When the BBC decided to book some instant analysis of a major criminal verdict, it opened its contact list of willing experts on criminal law and dialed up a Harvard Law professor with decades of high-profile criminal defense representation. On paper this is a slam dunk of an interview! How could this go wrong?

It went very wrong.

A jury found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of multiple criminal charges related to her involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s long-term sex trafficking enterprise. The BBC asked Alan Dershowitz to provide legal analysis.

We’re not here to question whether Alan Dershowitz kept his underwear on or not. The Harvard Law prof denies allegations that he had sex with victims of his friend and client Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. So much so that he dared his accusers to take him to court. And then they did. And then David Boies sued him. And then Dersh sued Netflix.

But the veracity of these allegations aren’t really relevant to the BBC’s decision. The network invited a legal analyst to talk about the Epstein case who is currently embroiled in lawsuits about the Epstein case. Unsurprisingly, they got less analysis than a freewheeling rant about how his specific accuser isn’t credible. Wasn’t calling Virginia Giuffre a liar on cable news how Dersh got sued in the first place?

Time is a flat circle.

Over the course of a couple minutes, Dershowitz pivots the discussion from the merits of the Maxwell verdict to assert that the prosecution didn’t call Giuffre to the stand because it must not have found her credible. Therefore — Q.E.D. — Dershowitz and Prince Andrew cannot possibly have been involved with Epstein’s crimes.

As they say on the LSAT, “there is not enough information to conclude (A) or (B).”

Maybe the prosecution found Giuffre’s testimony problematic. Maybe the prosecution just didn’t want to invite a distracting three-ring circus of defense lawyers hashing out the back-and-forth of all these Dershowitz lawsuits in an attempt to undermine her testimony. Another legal analyst might have raised both possibilities. Or at least stayed on the actual topic asked by the presenter.

Fast forward…

I can tell them exactly how it happened!

News networks maintain a small universe of experts to call upon. To some extent this is understandable because networks like to know that they’re calling on someone who is both knowledgable and telegenic. But it also keeps these outlets locked in a narrow box of repeating the same, stale perspectives over and over. Worse, it encourages the people on the inside with the networks to make ever more ridiculous claims to stay “controversial” enough to get asked back. For example… there’s no reason to let Jonathan Turley comment on the weather at this point, but he’s still tossing out bonkers legalish diatribes in a desperate bid to stretch his already worn out 15 minutes of fame.

So the BBC called the first name it thought of to analyze U.S. criminal law, never bothering to ask if that was the right name to call.


HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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