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In death, Jeffrey Epstein enjoys certain legal protections

Jeffrey Epstein (AP).PNG
FILE- In this July 30, 2008 file photo, Jeffrey Epstein is shown in custody in West Palm Beach, Fla. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, that federal prosecutors violated the rights of victims by secretly reaching a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein, a wealthy financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, Uma Sanghvi, File)

Even though prosecutors continue to investigate Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex trafficking ring, he will forever enjoy the presumption of innocence.

West Palm Beach attorney Ron Herman, who has been a prosecutor and defense attorney in cases in which one party dies, said the criminal charges against Epstein will soon be dropped due to his death.

"The criminal case is over," Herman said. "His lawyers, on his behalf, entered a not guilty plea. So in the eyes of the law, he is presumed innocent."

Herman said another legal protection that lives on in Epstein's death is the attorney-client privilege.

Statements and documents Epstein may have given to his lawyers can remain secret.

But there are still legal remedies Epstein's victims can pursue.

One option is filing a civil lawsuit against his estate, valued to be at least $500 million.

"The OJ Simpson case is a good example of where he was found not guilty in a criminal court, but was found liable in civil case," Herman said. "The standard is different, and something similar could happen here."

Lawyers for two of Epstein's accusers are asking a judge for a special hearing in West Palm Beach, allowing any of Epstein's victims to speak publicly about his alleged abuse.

"The hearing should be held promptly... to give the victims at least some kind of day in court," the court filing states.

A judge has not yet decided if this hearing would happen.

Herman said it's an unusual request.

"I have not personally experienced that scenario," he said. "From a moral perspective, victims have got to be heard. To be able to express that in a public forum is important. For the charges against [Epstein], for a criminal standard, [the hearing] is unlikely to have any impact."

If the hearing does happen, it's possible Epstein's accusers could testify to new evidence involving co-conspirators.

Criminal cases against Epstein's associates are still possible -- and Herman said Epstein could be named in those cases as a deceased co-conspirator.



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