Monday, 27 January, 2020

Jury selection begins for Weinstein rape trial after new charges laid

Harvey Weinstein uses a walker as he arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek feature on list of potential witnesses in Harvey Weinstein's rape case
Ismael Spencer | 10 January, 2020, 00:23

Earlier on Wednesday, Weinstein's lawyers asked to bar high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred from attending the trial, saying they might call her as a witness, but Justice James Burke denied the request.

A NY trial judge on Thursday denied a motion by Harvey Weinstein's defense team to recuse himself from the case after vigorously scolding the Hollywood producer earlier this week and threatening to revoke his bail for using a cell phone in the courtroom.

As evidence of judicial bias, Aidala cited a comment Burke made Tuesday when he threatened to revoke Weinstein's bail after catching him using his cellphone in court.

"Let me first just state the obvious", said Burke, after denying the motion. They objected to comments Burke made when he asked Weinstein if he was willing to got to jail "for life" if he kept ignoring a court order that bars texting in the courtroom.

They further complained about the judge's refusal to allow a "cooling off period", following the announcement on Monday by prosecutors in Los Angeles that they were also charging Weinstein with rape and sexual assault.

Harvey Weinstein's attorney Arthur Aidala speaks to reporters following the third day of jury selection in Weinstein's sexual assault trial. The court will continue to screen 120 potential jurors daily through next week, with opening statements targeted for January 22.

Prospective jurors were read a list of names that could come up during the trial of Weinstein, either as witnesses or who could be referenced as part of proceedings, including actresses Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron and Rosie Perez.

In the NY case, Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women, and faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault. He faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted.

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The former studio boss behind such Oscar-winning movies such as Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love has said any sexual activity was consensual.

Those charges accuse Weinstein of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another woman there on back-to-back nights in 2013.

Her belief that unproven allegations and media scrutiny had eroded Weinstein's right to a fair trial motivated her to take the case, she said.

On Monday, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced charges against Weinstein of sexual assault of two unidentified women in 2013.

The court is now having a hard time to put together a bench of jurors.

"In a case where multiple women will be taking the stand to testify, it's a different dynamic when you have a female involved in the defense", Rotunno told Reuters.

She went on to say that she believes if found not-guilty, Weinstein would "come back stronger".

"The press are to be applauded on how well they have maintained themselves", he said.

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