Tuesday Talk*: The Epstein Caveat

The editorial barely bothers with the requisite “alleged,” and goes from there to assume every awful thing possible about Jeffrey Epstein, his unnamed conspirators and Alex Acosta.

Even in the relatively sterile language of the legal system, the accusations against Mr. Epstein are nauseating. From “at least in or about” 2002 through 2005, the defendant “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls,” some as young as 14 and many “particularly vulnerable to exploitation.” The girls were “enticed and recruited” to visit Mr. Epstein’s various homes “to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars.” To “maintain and increase his supply of victims,” he paid some of the girls “to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused,” thus creating “a vast network of underage victims.”


The allegations in the New York indictment are a depressing echo of those that Mr. Epstein faced in Florida more than a decade ago, when his perversion first came to light. In 2008, federal prosecutors for the Southern District of Florida, at the time led by Alexander Acosta, who is now the nation’s secretary of labor, helped arrange a plea deal for Mr. Epstein that bent justice beyond its breaking point.

Stop. I know you desperately want to explain why Epstein is guilty, why the deal with Acosta stunk and how you’re entitled to believe his guilt because you’re not the jury and you are under no legal duty to either be neutral or await evidence before demanding execution.

Some will argue why an indictment, even though only an accusation, is still evidence, even though it’s not evidence no matter how hard you want to believe it is. Some will argue there’s no excuse for the NPA, relieving Epstein of federal culpability for a paltry state sentence, which could only be the product of corruption. Then come the conspiracy theories about the corruption, all the powerful pedos behind the scenes. Yeah, yeah, got it.

Epstein is the perfect storm for this peculiar moment in time:

  • White
  • Male
  • Rich
  • Politically connected
  • Charged with a sex crime
  • Charged with a sex crime against minors
  • A convicted sex offender upon his prior conviction for soliciting prostitution from minors

If you can’t forsake all the niceties of due process, presumption of innocence, burden of proof, and just know he’s guilty and everything about him is literally awful and entirely well-deserved, who can you?

Who can you?

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

61 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk*: The Epstein Caveat

  1. Brooklyn Mind

    I think it’s fair to say he is definitely guilty of committing much of what he is now accused of, since he plead guilty to much of the same on 2008 if not to the top count or all the exact same TPO.

    1. SHG Post author

      Every simplistic idiot thinks it’s fair to say something utterly without basis. Were you there for Epstein’s Palm Beach plea allocution or do you regularly suffer from psychotic delusions?

      1. Brooklyn Mind

        Not sure why you are being insulting since I assume you know that an allocution must make out the elements of the crime therefore he by definition admitted to most of what is now being alleged. There are also numerous reports of the substance of his plea not to mention that at his own arraignment yesterday his lawyer said that these charges were inappropriate because he already plead and served time for these facts.

        1. SHG Post author

          There’s a neat trick that works for people for whom irrelevant and fuzzy words conceal a fundamentally flawed grasp at every turn. He did not plea to the same crime, although the crime to which he pleaded guilty was derived from the same course of conduct. Since the crime isn’t the same, the elements aren’t the same, and as you try to skirt in your inane comment, you have no clue what the elements were or what facts he allocated to.

          Try using words and concepts like a lawyer rather than the meaningless vagaries expected of a high school sophomore and maybe you’ll be treated like a lawyer instead of an idiot.

          Then again, if you demonstrated even minimal legal competence, you would write the insanely stupid crap reflected in your comments because you would know better.

          1. Brooklyn Mind

            My words were very specific but you are too busy being insulting and obtuse to properly read them, which is a bad trait on a lawyer and would account for your middling career.
            I never said he plead guilty to the same crimes in the federal indictment only that what he did plead guilt to is part of the current charges. In fact it is essentially the underlying crime for the conspiracy he was charged. And I know very well what elements he plead to because beyond the case being widely publicized, I can read Section 796.3 of the Florida Code which clearly details the elements of the crime.

            1. SHG Post author

              Well, at least you think highly of yourself. Then again, since you’re so brilliant, why are you here at my middling lawyer blog instead of using your valuable time more more wisely? Or maybe you’re RBG hiding behind that pseudonym?

            2. Brooklyn Mind

              There is such a wide chasm between your middling career and RGB that I find it amusing that you used that reference. And while I wasn’t talking about myself at all I’ll say that despite my constant self doubt and insecurities, there isn’t a day where my legal career hasn’t objectively surpassed yours in both accomplishment (on both sides of the well) and compensation.
              As to why I posted, I thought that as a lawyer who does (to your credit) put his views out there you would honestly participate in a debate on a somewhat nuanced and unique issue. I thought wrong

            3. Sgt. Schultz

              And another worthless worm hiding behind a ‘nym can’t figure out why no one appreciates him when he’s so sincere and self-important.

              Are you really so successful? Then give up your name, worm, or you’re just another pathetic liar posing as a lawyer.

            4. Skink

              BM–dopes stand out in this here Hotel. In case you didn’t know, which seems likely, we’re mostly judges and lawyers. We think and talk like lawyers about lawyerly things. Many are very accomplished, including the Innkeeper. Some have even argued in the Supreme Court of the United States!

              When a middling brain spews dopey stuff, it stands out. You might as well be naked in the lobby, wearing only a hat that says “Ima Dope” and holding a rubber lizard. We notice that stuff–it’s hard to disremember.

              By the way, here in the Swamp, there is no “Florida Code.” Chapter 796, Florida Statutes is the Swamp prostitution law. Once upon a time there was a Section 796.03, not .3, but it’s been repealed and moved. Like most of our criminal statutes, it doesn’t really lay out the elements of crimes.

              I include that last paragraph, which is something the Innkeeper don’t really like to see, because I wanted you to know that it isn’t only the middling thinking that tells us when an interloping dope tries to use the Hotel pool; we also know because the intellectually-challenged also use the wrong terms.

              Now, about that hat. . . .

            5. Brooklyn Mind

              I didn’t post to brag about myself, nor did I insult anyone until repeatedly insulted.

              But one thing I know is that SHG isn’t the last word in legal opinion and unlike him (and apparently others) I am interested in the nuances. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I also don’t start insulting and acting all hostile the second one of my notions is even slightly questioned. I also know that generally people who react that way aren’t that impressive.

    2. Kirk A Taylor

      The fact that you believe that only highlights how ridiculous the double jeopardy violation is. He admitted to things via a plea agreement and that shatters the presumption of innocence in a second prosecution. There is no way for him to get a fair trial and an impartial jury.

    3. David

      Do you also assume that a poor visible minority person who can’t afford bail who pleads guilty to get out of jail is “definitely guilty”? Even for rich white people, there have been convictions or plea deals that one might be uncomfortable with (in the sense of being concerned whether the person did anything substantively legally wrong or was simply engaging in risk management).
      Thinking also of the OJ Simpson discussion here, I don’t want to be a hypocrite even on a Tuesday, like you I may indulge in the luxury of assuming someone did bad things because I am not involved in their legal proceedings, don’t know them or live near them or have met them. But even engaging in the luxury of assumptions, I remain open to the possibility that even someone who plead guilty didn’t do it.
      Re double jeopardy concerns, there have been cases involving e.g. successfully bribing a judge or juror and courts holding the person could still be prosecuted because they weren’t really in jeopardy (despite the possibility the person might have accepted the bribe but still convicted them!). I wonder if there might be a rich white privilege and other prominent people involved = undue influence on prosecutors to reduce charges to nearly the vanishing point = no real jeopardy, argument…

      1. Brooklyn Mind

        That is a ridiculously non comparable analogy.
        Jeffery Epstein was in every way the opposite of the poor defendent held on bail pleading guilty to simply get out of jail.

    4. David

      A number of highly respected and experienced federal criminal defense lawyers have discussed the issues in this case in some depth, including Ken White, Sol Wisenberg, Mark Bennett, David Markus, and others, including Scott with his middling career and respect of lawyers and judges alike. They raise many issues, many questions, many points of agreement and disagreement, but they all recognize that there is nothing simplistic about this case.

      And then you show up and write this superficial crap and get all butthurt that you weren’t shown the respect you, and you alone, believe you’re entitled to? And then you attack your host, who posted your shallow, then whiny, comments anyway?

      Whoever you are, and unlike SS, I truly don’t give a shit, you have to earn respect by demonstrating sufficient depth of thought. You haven’t. You don’t lose because you’re a self-aggrandizing worm, but because we can see what you wrote and it’s shallow crap.

      1. Brooklyn Mind

        Yes because arguing that Epstein is entitled to due process and that knee jerk reactions when a politically connected, rich, powerful person is accussed of salacious crimes are dumb… Is the deepest most non obvious take ever.

        1. szr

          Read the quoted NY editorial in full. Read it again if necessary. The Paper of Record subtitled the editorial “Mr. Epstein is not the only one due a reckoning with justice,” for god’s sake. Does that imply that the Editorial Board has any great concerns about due process and the presumption of innocence?

          I’m no great legal scholar, and far less accomplished than “middling” persons like SHG. Hell, I’m willing to stipulate that your legal career will one day eclipse Clarence Seward Darrow’s if you’d like. But practicing immigration law in Texas gives me plenty of first-hand experience of how hard it is to get even minimal due process for a disfavored class of people. I see the downstream effects of blithely discarding due process and the presumption of innocence, even (especially?) in cases like Epstein’s.

          You began the day asserting that it is “fair to say he is definitely guilty of committing much of what he is now accused of.” I hope you would do it differently from now on.

    5. JVO

      I don’t know if he is guilty but there is a lot of damning information that clearly indicates to me Epstein did what he is accused of. Just because he did it doesn’t me he’s guilty. Right OJ!?

        1. Black Bellamy

          I’m a fan! I mean the dude has money and accomplishments! He mentions a well, and we know people are always getting stuck, maybe there is a heroic rescue story here?

  2. Jeff

    OJ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
    Don’t you get it? This guy, this time, is literally The Worst, and as such not subjected to the niceties of presumed innocence.
    Just as the next one will be, as well.

  3. Guitardave

    Since everybody knows hes the wickedest of the baddest of the bad, bad men, why hasn’t some ruby-slippered SJW just tossed some of that-there magic wizard water on him, and dance and sing while he dies screaming “I’m melting, I’M MELTING..” ?
    No need to tie up the courts when guilt is so obvious, and the solution’s so easy….amirite?

    1. B. McLeod

      Well, once anybody starts using magic in these cases, the field is wide open, and then the defense gets to use magic too (or at least argue it).

      1. SHG Post author

        It’s always been about magic. Cops and prosecutors magically know who’s guilty. Defendants believe their magic being in the sky will save them from their confession and video. Juries magically understand instructions and judges magically know the perfect sentence to impose.

        The only people who have no magic are criminal defense lawyers. Sucks to be us.

        1. neoteny

          The only people who have no magic are criminal defense lawyers.

          Well, it looks like Epstein’s criminal defense lawyers worked a bit of magic back in 2008.

  4. Raging racist

    I’m a civil lawyer so forgive my ignorance.
    I know it’s a different state but unlike OJ it’s the same crime during the same period. Is there a double jeopardy argument?

  5. B. McLeod

    Hah! You left out that the indictment was obtained by the friendly AUSAs of SDNY, and the talking heads on the TV news say that these lawyers never bring a case unless it is a lead-pipe cinch. Ever. So it must be, right?

  6. L. Phillips

    Down here in the cheap seats I sense a perverse desire to see Epstein get off for the promised spectacle of SJW heads exploding a la “Mars Attacks”.

    1. SHG Post author

      It would be interesting, indeed, to see some heads explode, but fun as that prospect might be, it would merely be rationalized away as another instance of how the wealthy white man gets away with everything. No matter what the outcome, there will be some rationalization that confirm everyone’s bias.

  7. Clark Neily

    I’m confident Kim Jong-un is a mass murderer, and I think it would be disrespectful to his victims to preface that with “alleged” just because he hasn’t (yet) been convicted of it. And I would continue to feel that way if he were to be indicted. Some people get the benefit of “alleged” in out-of-court discourse because there really is some reasonable doubt about their guilt. Others don’t get that benefit because there is no serious doubt about their guilt, even before they’ve been tried. Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, and Nicolas Maduro all fall into that category as far as I’m concerned. Whether the quantum of proof against Jeffrey Epstein currently rises to the same level is something about which reasonable people may disagree. I think it does, and given the choice between disrespecting his victims or failing to be totally punctilious in characterizing his present legal status in lay-commentary/conversation, I’ll choose the latter—just as I and many others do with OJ.

    1. SHG Post author

      Kinda makes your whole position on the need for jury trials seem wasteful if you simultaneously see the presumption of innocence as merely a personal preference, to be applied or not based on your feelz.

      1. Clark Neily

        With respect, that’s a remarkably glib response. You engage none of my points, answer none of my questions and resort to cheap ad hominem instead. (My “feelz”—seriously?). I’d be happy to break it down for you the next time we get drinks/dinner, but the short version is this: there’s a absolutely essential difference between state and private actors. I have no obligation to append the word “alleged” before anyone’s name simply because there’s a process the government must follow before imposing particular kinds of punishments. (And of course not every criminal defendant is constitutionally entitled to a jury trial before being convicted and punished, as you know very well.) There may be sound reasons for appending the punctilious “alleged” in lay-conversation despite the lack of moral obligation—indeed, there are some very good reasons for certain people under certain circumstances to do so—but no one reading this blog will have the benefit of seeing those arguments explicated and engaged because apparently this forum is more for throwing rocks. Duly noted.

        Oh, and same offer to you, Miles, if you have any genuine interest in engaging intellectually rather than reflexively slagging an opinion that challenges your priors.

        1. SHG Post author

          The notion that we, as individuals, are entitled to believe any damn thing we want no matter how baseless, facile and presumptuous it may be, isn’t exactly a novel concept. It’s been raised a few millions times already, and doesn’t exactly present any new points requiring a response. It’s not a crime to believe in space aliens. It’s not a crime to eschew principles whenever you feel like it. Seriously.

          If you want to be respected for deep thoughts, you need to offer deep thoughts. Don’t blame me that a banal point is banal.

        2. The Dude

          About a month ago, SHG raised this point in regard to OJ, when he suddenly appeared on Twitter. Permission to post link?
          You commented there as well, so while you may have forgotten, he addressed the point then, yet you bring it up again here. Miles did as well.

          It’s possible you forgot that you’ve already had this discussion here. It’s possible that you remember. Either way, it’s been made clear that you’re under no legal or moral duty to believe a defendant innocent for any reason or no reason, but it’s disingenuous of you to argue that whenever you believe someone’s guilty, you are somehow freed from all principles.

          You believe what you believe. We get it. We got it last time. And all those legal things are technicalities and nobody can make you believe in them. This isn’t an intellectual debate on your part, so at least be honest with yourself and don’t blame SHG or Miles for calling bullshit in your self-indulgent bullshit.

          1. SHG Post author

            In that post, I explain that, like Clark, I succumb to me feelz as well when it comes to believing OJ guilty. The difference is that I’m neither proud of myself for it nor assert that I’m virtuous because of it. It disturbs me that I do so, even though I concededly do.

    2. Miles

      This scares me, Clark. Here I thought Cato was one of the few places where principle still matters, and this is one of the most unprincipled things you could possibly say. But even worse is the fact that you felt so strongly that you needed to publicly announce your lack of principles. You have burst my Cato bubble.

      1. Clark Neily

        This may come as a surprise to you, Miles, but Cato steadfastly rejects orthodoxy and stands unflinchingly committed to the preeminent value of free and unfettered inquiry. In fact, I had an excellent conversation about this post with an extremely thoughtful colleague who comes down more on your and Scott’s side and made a number of very powerful points in rebuttal. He didn’t change my mind (as he sometimes does), but he sure made me think. And THAT’s how we do things at Cato—in case you care.

        1. SHG Post author

          I care that the presumption of innocence is up for debate at Cato. I would have hoped it would be a settled issue, but my hopes would be dashed.

            1. B. McLeod

              It signifies that one of the contestants has managed to execute a “full point” technique, typically a throw with strong technical form. Most matches do not end this way, because it is hard for either contestant to do if they have near equal skill.

        2. School Lawyer

          “Cato steadfastly rejects orthodoxy and stands unflinchingly committed to the preeminent value of free and unfettered inquiry.”

          I agree with Miles. Cato’s reputation just went down a big notch.

          Because, hey, we all know orthodoxy wouldn’t be mistaken for the accumulated wisdom of the centuries. And who would tolerate free but fettered inquiry?

          1. SHG Post author

            I haven’t got the slightest clue what your “Because…” sentence is supposed to mean. Ever notice how attempts at snark can fail miserably?

    3. Fubar

      … given the choice between disrespecting his victims or failing to be totally punctilious in characterizing his present legal status in lay-commentary/conversation, I’ll choose the latter …

      I do not think your statement conflicts with any principle you might assert that a fair trial before an unbiased jury should be necessary for conviction in every case. It does mean that you should not be on a jury in any case involving Mr. Epstein (or Mssrs Kim, Putin and Maduro for that matter).

      Had you further asserted that you should be allowed on such a jury, then I would question your principles. But so far you haven’t, so I don’t.

      1. SHG Post author

        As to Kim, Putin and Maduro, it’s unlikely anything Clark (or pretty much any of us) can say that will prejudice them or, if it ever comes to pass since none are, as far as I’m aware, currently indicted in an American court.

        OJ is a different issue, since he’s been acquitted in a court of law and convicted in the court of public opinion, from which there’s no appeal.

        Epstein, on other hand, stands indicted at this moment, and is in jeopardy and smart people like Clark, particularly in the position of Clark, can have a very real impact on public and judicial perceptions. So while he’s not on the jury, he’s not without influence, or at least the opportunity for influence. It’s not the same as being on the jury, but it’s not as benign as assuming bad things about Putin either.

        1. Fubar

          So while he’s not on the jury, he’s not without influence, or at least the opportunity for influence.

          Which influence I agree could make finding an unbiased jury more difficult. But I can only conjecture how much more difficult, and my conjecture is not much. Public ignorance is difficult to overestimate, even a few months after the news headline stories and op-ed pieces.

          I’m still amazed (though by now I shouldn’t be) by the number of people I casually encounter who have never heard of things I consider ordinary casual knowledge.

          For Jeffrey Epstein, with a large enough sample I think there’s a good chance of hearing this answer: “Isn’t he a grandson of that old guy that invented the atomic bomb?”

  8. PseudonymousKid

    Pops, you’re really blaming people for knee-jerk reactions to such salacious facts? Billionaires? Check. Private islands where who knows what goes down? Check. Clinton!? Check. Foreign Diplomats? Check. Sex? Check. Save the children? Check. The proof of the oligarchy hell bent on raping children is all there, except there’s no proof yet. Damnit if those details are just too much to handle. I can’t wait for the dramatized TV adaptation about the valiant efforts of the AUSAs to bring down such a definitely evil Man, or how he used his mass resources to escape justice despite those efforts.

  9. Howl

    It is just a bit disconcerting to see learned folks whose knowledge and experience is worthy of respect saying things like “definitely guilty,” that they are “confident” that there is a “quantum of proof ” pointing to his guilt, based on what they’ve heard or read about the accused, the allegations, and the indictment.
    Did Epstein commit those alleged crimes?
    The bottom line is, I don’t know, and neither does anybody else who has commented here.

  10. The Real Kurt

    While I have definite opinions on his moral character and likely lack of innocence, what I’m *really* waiting for are all of the conspiracy nuts to come out strong on the claims Clinton/Trump/everybody else were on his plane doing the same thing of which he’s accused.

    Popcorn already popped – just waiting to sprinkle a little chipotle salt and douse with warm butter and sit back and enjoy the show.

    The Real Kurt

  11. Pedantic Grammar Police

    There is more to this case than meets the eye. Alfredo Rodriguez, who was trying to peddle his little black book and claimed to have nasty info about rich and powerful people, died a mysterious death in prison after being prosecuted on some pretty dubious charges. Reporters who investigated him had their stories killed after their editors were visited by Epstein or others. Alex Acosta claims that he gave him a break because he was involved with “intelligence.”

    I expect that Epstein will mysteriously die soon; probably by committing suicide.

  12. Pedantic Grammar Police

    Acosta is now trying to blame then-Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer for the sweet deal. Krischer is basically calling him a liar: “I can emphatically state that Mr. Acosta’s recollection of this matter is completely wrong.”

    Based on police statements to the Miami Herald last year, it appears that they are both lying and were both onboard with the scam. The interesting question is, why is this closed case being reopened now?

    1. SHG Post author

      The oddity is that there are a great many good questions here. Even if they get answered, we won’t trust the answers.

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