A reader called to my attention an extraordinary letter in the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse case. This is the case that has, surreally, drawn in Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew. In a recent filing, Paul G. Cassell and Bradley J. Edwards, lawyers who represent a woman who claims to be a victim of sexual assault by Mr. Dershowitz and the Prince, submitted a letter from their own lawyer, Jack Scarola of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley in West Palm Beach, Florida, addressed to His Royal Highness the Duke of York.
I would like to pause and comment on something curious in the letterhead itself. At the bottom is the firm’s monogram surrounded by what I would describe as two heraldic supporters, lions couchant, I think. Maybe this firm is specially qualified to address letters to royalty!
Anyway, the letter is a “formal request” that the Prince make himself available for an interview, under oath, regarding the case. Apparently the letter was refused. My reader was rightly puzzled by the letter. What is it, exactly? It’s not a subpoena, of course, nor could it be: a subpoena from the court in Florida where the action is pending cannot be served abroad, except with leave of court if the person to be deposed is a national or resident of the United States under 28 U.S.C. § 1783. Nor is it a request to a competent UK authority to take evidence from Prince Andrew, which Cassell and Edwards could make, again with leave of court, under the Hague Evidence Convention. Instead, it is merely what it purports to be—a request that Prince Andrew was perfectly free to ignore, as apparently he has.
Surely Edwards and Cassell could not have expected any other outcome. So why send the letter? It seems to me to be an attempt to exert some PR pressure on the Prince. The letter has a copy of what purports to be a photograph of the Prince and Jane Doe No. 3. “I would like,” Mr. Scarola writes,” to discuss events that occurred at the time that the photograph below was taken—and shortly thereafter.” This sound ominous and threatening to me. In any event, it seems that the Duke of York is feeling some pressure, as he strongly denied the allegations in a speech at Davos.