It’s the day before jury selection in the Harvey Weinstein rape trial, but you could never describe this as “the calm before the storm.” Both sides of the case clashed in a preliminary hearing over evidence, and how a defense lawyer talked about some alleged victims in the media.
Only the Law&Crime Network covered all the developments live. Cameras aren’t allowed in the courtroom, so host Jesse Weber and reporter Angelica Spanos were live at the New York State Supreme Court to report on all the important turns in the case. Law&Crime was also the only network to carry every major press conference live including with Weinstein’s attorneys and the accusers who both spoke passionately outside the courthouse steps.
Weinstein is charged with allegedly raping an unnamed woman in 2013, and sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006. Over 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
The defense lost a discovery motion in court, Weber said in a recap of the day’s events. Attorneys had wanted unredacted versions of state materials. The prosecution, however, said it wasn’t necessary to review a witness’ medical records, or to have unredacted notes on everyone interviewed in the case.
The defense also couldn’t convince the judge to sequester the jury.
They didn’t lose every fight, however. Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon took defense lawyer Donna Rotunno to task for “degrading” statements about the witnesses in the trial. In response Rotunno denied stepping over the line, however, and the judge denied the state’s move for a gag order. Rotunno also denied releasing sealed material, said that the media had their own way of getting the documents, and asserted that she was only answering questions. Nonetheless, the judge told her not to talk about witnesses.
Criminal defendants often keep pretty quiet in hearings, but Weinstein interjected when the court started discussing where he will stay during the trial. He said, “no, no, no, no, no,” when the possibility came up that he might have to stay in New York State. The defendant wanted to be able to stay in Connecticut throughout the trial.
NYPD Detective Nicholas DiGaudio‘s name also came up in court. He’s the law enforcement officer accused of misconduct in the case, including allegedly telling a woman she could delete information from her phone before giving it to prosecutors. The judge determined that the defense can’t call him up from the get-go, but they can cross-examine witnesses about him, and then if necessary, they can call him up after that.
The state may call former Weinstein attorney David Boies to testify at trial about intelligence firm Black Cube. The firm and Boies were implicated in an ornate plot to discredit and undermine Weinstein’s alleged victims.
It was a big day outside, too. Law&Crime Network brought live coverage of press conferences by the courthouse.
Rotunno and co-counsel Damon Cheronis spoke to reporters, and reasserted their client’s innocence. Cheronis discussed the possibility of more charges in Los Angeles, California.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re hoping not, for sure. I think if that happened it would be pretty obvious as to why. The timing would be very suspect.”
Attorneys for alleged victims also spoke to reporters in New York City. First there was Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for a woman who said she was 16 when Weinstein sexually assaulted her. He said he’s also representing a Jane Doe, who will be identified at the trial. She will be one of the witnesses testifying. Weinstein allegedly raped this client in 2005 at the defendant’s apartment.
“We no longer are strapped with the rape myths,” he said. “And the jurors that we’ll start selecting tomorrow going through next week are in tune with the common rape myths. That people aren’t necessarily raped in dark allies at gunpoint, or knifepoint.” He said that women often know the perpetrator, and speak to the person after the crime. Women often don’t tell their loves ones, or police about the incident.
“And this case will be a testament, and will be a trial not only about Harvey Weinstein, but where we have come as a society,” he said.
Attorney Gloria Allred also spoke. She’s a lawyer for Mimi Haleyi, and actress Annabella Sciorra, an alleged Weinstein victim who will testify on the issue of sexually predatory conduct. She mentioned the recent “media blitz” by the defense, and agreed with the state’s position that the defense’s statements were “abominable.”
“And I think what the defense was trying to do this weekend and prior to that was to try to make an attempt through insinuations or direct statements that somehow some of the witnesses could not be believed, and trying to undermine the witnesses,” she said. “And why would they do that now before the trial starts? Obviously to try to have an impact on the jury pool, to then raise doubts about some of the witnesses the prosecution will call. And I think that’s extremely, extremely unfair to the witnesses, and that the jury should only judge the witnesses’ testimony and their credibility based on what is admitted in court, and not based on any arguments of the defense, either inside or outside of the courtroom.”
Tuesday sees the beginning of pre-screening for jurors. Jury selection is expected to start in earnest next week. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.
[Image via Stephanie Keith/Getty Images]