Ga. judge will excuse any potential jurors convicted of posting sensitive documents online

Judge Loren R. Barshop closed the pool of potential jurors Monday and promised to exculpate anyone found guilty of illegally posting sensitive documents to the social networking site known as Whisper.

If convicted, the prosecution will try the verdict in a juvenile court, which is believed to be the first trial using anonymous websites as evidence.

The hearing was the final step in the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, a former Scottish banker. Maxwell and a former Sony Pictures president are accused of illegally posting confidential documents and documents containing inside knowledge of corporate acquisition deals to a related website called AlphaBay.

Maxwell is charged with four counts of aggravated identity theft, five counts of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of unlawfully accessing computer data and servers.

Ghislaine Maxwell

The 45-year-old Maxwell, born in Scotland, and John Krometis, a 46-year-old former Sony Pictures executive, have pleaded not guilty. They also face the possibility of life in prison. Their attorney, George Vomvolakis, also represents Casey Anthony in the Florida murder trial.

After some bad morning weather, the third day of jury selection, which began Thursday, produced several cordial encounters with prospective jurors, including a mother and daughter who asked if they could be brought for interviews, rather than dismissed from the pool. Another woman, a mother, demanded to know about the French novel Charles Dickens wrote in 1900.

Based on closed-door discussions, Barshop told defense attorneys he needed two days to screen about 250 potential jurors. They asked for three, arguing that those additional days would allow for “the larger, robust and diverse pool” needed to keep the trial under the nine-day trial limit set by law.

While Maxwell is charged with attempted and actual hacking — The guilty verdict could carry a sentence of up to 120 years in prison — attorneys are barred from discussing what jurors were asked questions during questioning.

Prosecutors said Maxwell, Krometis and another defendant illegally hacked into professional security systems and posted information on AlphaBay. AlphaBay was shut down by law enforcement in January 2017.

Investigators said the jury will include, by coincidence, a doctor, computer programmers, lawyers, social workers, an entertainment industry executive, a licensed firearms dealer, a clothing store owner, a homemaker, and several retired individuals.

If convicted of all charges, Maxwell could be sentenced to a maximum of 121 years in prison and pay a fine of $1.75 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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