Harvey Weinstein's lawyers seek New York judge's removal over accusations of bias

Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York, and faces life in prison if convicted

Reuters January 09, 2020 10:48:01 IST
Harvey Weinstein's lawyers seek New York judge's removal over accusations of bias

New York: Dozens of potential jurors were excused on Wednesday from serving in the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein, as the former movie producer’s lawyers accused the judge presiding over the trial of bias.

In all, 90 of the 120 potential jurors summoned to state court in Manhattan on the second day of jury selection were dismissed, most after saying they could not be impartial in the case.

Harvey Weinsteins lawyers seek New York judges removal over accusations of bias

Harvey Weinstein/Image from Twitter.

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York, and faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault. His trial began on Monday and could last as long as two months.

“I read every article and it’s gonna be very hard for someone who’s been assaulted multiple times,” one female potential juror said, explaining why she could not be impartial.

“I was assaulted in my past, so I don’t think I can be a fair juror,” another woman said.

A third woman said she had “a very close friend who had an encounter with the defendant.”

Many other jurors simply said they could not be fair, without giving a reason.

The 30 potential jurors who were not dismissed Wednesday are expected to return on 16 January for the next phase of jury selection.

Also on Wednesday, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, Arthur Aidala, filed a motion asking Burke to recuse himself, saying the judge had made “prejudicial and inflammatory comments” that showed “animus” toward Weinstein.

Burke on Tuesday threatened to revoke Weinstein’s bail after catching him using his cellphone in court, asking him, “Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting and violating a court order?”

Aidala said the question suggested Burke had already decided Weinstein was guilty and should be sentenced to life. Burke has not ruled on the motion.

Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades.

The Weinstein allegations helped fuel the #MeToo movement which encouraged women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

Weinstein has denied the allegations, saying any sexual encounters he had were consensual.

The former film producer made his mark with critically acclaimed films such as The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love.

Prosecutors need 12 jurors to back a conviction, while Weinstein needs just one holdout for a hung jury.

On Monday, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced new sexual assault charges against Weinstein.

Updated Date:

also read

Hollywood Foreign Press Association expels ex-prez over email calling Black Lives Matter a 'racist hate movement'
Entertainment

Hollywood Foreign Press Association expels ex-prez over email calling Black Lives Matter a 'racist hate movement'

Phil Berk, who had been an HFPA member for more than 40 years, was expelled after he shared an article that described Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors as a “self-proclaimed trained Marxist."

'Hollywood has a dehumanisation problem': Producer Scott Rudin bullying exposé met with silence
Entertainment

'Hollywood has a dehumanisation problem': Producer Scott Rudin bullying exposé met with silence

Rudin, one of the most successful and powerful producers, with a heap of Oscars and Tonys to show for it, has long been known for torturous treatment of an ever-churning parade of assistants.

Aziz Ansari's long-delayed third season of Netflix show Master of None to debut in May
Entertainment

Aziz Ansari's long-delayed third season of Netflix show Master of None to debut in May

Season 3 of the Netflix show is reportedly titled Master of None Presents: Moments in Love and will focus on Lena Waithe's character Denise.