Potential juror in Weinstein’s trial said her friend had an ‘encounter’ with disgraced movie mogul

A potential juror for the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case in New York was dismissed after she admitted to the court that her friend had had an ‘encounter’ with the embattled movie mogul in his hotel room.  

The woman’s comment was made this week when asked by Judge James Burke if she could be a fair and impartial juror in Weinstein’s case. 

‘I have a close friend who had an encounter with the defendant in his hotel room,’ the woman said, according to BuzzFeed News

The news comes after reports that Harvey Weinstein’s defense team was admonished on Friday by the judge for ‘illegally’ demanding the media be banned from reporting on the remainder of the jury selection process. 

A disheveled looking Harvey Weinstein leaves the New York City criminal court during his sex crimes trial on January 10

A disheveled looking Harvey Weinstein leaves the New York City criminal court during his sex crimes trial on January 10

A disheveled looking Harvey Weinstein leaves the New York City criminal court during his sex crimes trial on January 10

As things stand , Judge Burke is tentatively penciling in January 22 as the start of opening arguments

As things stand , Judge Burke is tentatively penciling in January 22 as the start of opening arguments

As things stand , Judge Burke is tentatively penciling in January 22 as the start of opening arguments

Weinstein, 67, is facing five charges in New York from accusations he raped one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 – charges to which he has pleaded not guilty, claiming any sexual activity was consensual.

Despite facing life in prison if convicted, the disgraced mogul appeared in a jovial mood when he arrived outside Manhattan Criminal Court this morning, sharing a laugh and a joke with his lawyer Donna Rotunno.

Cutting a frail figure and hunched over his now-infamous walker, Weinstein, with a pair of slippers on his feet, hauled himself up the steps and shuffled his way into the courthouse ahead of what proved to be a dramatic day of proceedings.

Moments after he stepped into the courtroom, the conclusion to the first week of Weinstein’s trial took a shocking twist when the former producer’s co-counsel, Arthur Aidala, threw an unprecedented legal curveball by demanding Judge James Burke ban all media coverage of the jury selection – despite the process being nearly half-way complete.

‘Most people don’t speak in front of the international media,’ Aidala proclaimed to Burke. ‘In order for citizens to be as honest and forthright as possible, we ask that jury selection be done in private.’

Weinstein leaves court

Weinstein leaves court

His downcast demeanour marked a far cry from the smiling and joking Weinstein who was pictured arriving at the courthouse hours earlier

His downcast demeanour marked a far cry from the smiling and joking Weinstein who was pictured arriving at the courthouse hours earlier

His downcast demeanour marked a far cry from the smiling and joking Weinstein who was pictured arriving at the courthouse hours earlier

A wry smile is seen on the face of Weinstein's lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, despite her team suffering another defeat in their attempts to paint their client's trial as a media circus, one which, in their opinion, prevents the 67-year-old from getting a fair trial

A wry smile is seen on the face of Weinstein's lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, despite her team suffering another defeat in their attempts to paint their client's trial as a media circus, one which, in their opinion, prevents the 67-year-old from getting a fair trial

A wry smile is seen on the face of Weinstein’s lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, despite her team suffering another defeat in their attempts to paint their client’s trial as a media circus, one which, in their opinion, prevents the 67-year-old from getting a fair trial

The ex-producer's legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor

The ex-producer's legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor

And Friday proved to be no exception

And Friday proved to be no exception

The ex-producer’s legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor – and Friday proved to be no exception

With his proposed motion essentially a bid to cloak the proceedings, Aidala told the judge his true motivation behind the request was to ensure prospective jurors are handed the opportunity to discuss sensitive topics, such as sexual assault, without inhibiting themselves because of a press presence in the courtroom. 

In a week filled with similar explosive and outlandish moves on the part of the defense, Judge Burke seemed unimpressed by Aidala’s latest stunt and a heated exchange followed.

‘That is illegal!,’ Burke thundered in retort. ‘I’ll read this [motion], but I’m generally familiar with this form of the law… I’m disagreeing with you on virtually every level. 

‘If this is inconsistent with having a transparent jury selection, it will be denied,’ Burke sharply continued. ‘I see this is an end run around my ruling about your desire for time limits.’ 

The prosecution urged Burke to reject the defense’s motion without review, calling the request unprecedented.

‘They want each person to be questioned in private, for which I don’t think there is any precedent except in the most extreme examples,’ Manhattan Deputy District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon pleaded. 

Burke appeared to position himself with the defense, saying that jurors have already been allowed the capacity to speak to attorney’s confidentially if they needed to.

‘In this case, at the pre-screening level, we’re already doing that,’ Burke continued. ‘We have had that confidential response.’  

Aidala insisted that jury screening for a sexual assault case involves asking people about sensitive subjects 

‘Those are very embarrassing, personal subjects to be saying in front of millions of people, that will be reported across the world,’ he said. ‘With this amount of scrutiny, which is not normal for a case.’

Aidala continued by raising another area of concern, that if prospective jurors openly share their opinions in front of others – whether based on fact or otherwise – those opinions could influence the views of other jurors. 

But again Burke appeared unmoved: ‘Jurors blurt all manner of things out that are not great, that are not desirable for entire jury panels to hear,’ the judge replied. ‘That is just a truism of our system of justice.’

Calling the motion ‘against the law’, Burke tentatively denied Aidala’s request, but said he would still review the eight page motion either today, or over the weekend.

Obtained by USA Today, in the motion Aidala says that Weinstein’s defense has reviewed some of the potential jurors’ questionnaires and believes many are unfairly biased against the ex-producer.

In review, Aidala writes: ‘We have learned that (1) some jurors have not been candid in their responses; (2) at least one juror has expressed an ulterior financial motive for serving on Mr. Weinstein’s trial and that he would find him guilty; (3) a number of jurors have been victims of or had exposure to sexual assault or domestic violence; and (4) nearly all jurors have heard about this case,’ Aidala writes.

The defense team further requested that all 32 jurors who heard a damning remark about Weinstein during voir dire two days ago be removed.

When asked by the judge why he was raising the matter so far into the process, which has already been widely covered, Aidala simply replied: ‘Our only motivation is to make sure we get a fair and impartial jury.’   

In a week filled with similar explosive and outlandish moves on the part of the defense, Judge Burke seemed unimpressed by Aidala's latest stunt to have the media banned from proceedings

In a week filled with similar explosive and outlandish moves on the part of the defense, Judge Burke seemed unimpressed by Aidala's latest stunt to have the media banned from proceedings

A heated exchange followed

A heated exchange followed

In a week filled with similar explosive and outlandish moves on the part of the defense, Judge Burke seemed unimpressed by Aidala’s latest stunt to have the media banned from proceedings and a heated exchange followed

'That is illegal!,' Burke thundered in retort. 'I’ll read this [motion], but I’m generally familiar with this form of the law... I’m disagreeing with you on virtually every level

'That is illegal!,' Burke thundered in retort. 'I’ll read this [motion], but I’m generally familiar with this form of the law... I’m disagreeing with you on virtually every level

‘That is illegal!,’ Burke thundered in retort. ‘I’ll read this [motion], but I’m generally familiar with this form of the law… I’m disagreeing with you on virtually every level

Calling the motion 'against the law', Burke tentatively denied Aidala's request, but said he would still review the eight page motion either today, or over the weekend

Calling the motion 'against the law', Burke tentatively denied Aidala's request, but said he would still review the eight page motion either today, or over the weekend

Calling the motion ‘against the law’, Burke tentatively denied Aidala’s request, but said he would still review the eight page motion either today, or over the weekend

Shamed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein arrived to court with a smile on his face in New York this morning

Shamed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein arrived to court with a smile on his face in New York this morning

Shamed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein arrived to court with a smile on his face in New York this morning

Weinstein, 67, is charged in New York with raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 - charges to which he has pleaded not guilty

Weinstein, 67, is charged in New York with raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 - charges to which he has pleaded not guilty

Weinstein cut a frail figure this morning - a recurring theme of his recent court appearances

Weinstein cut a frail figure this morning - a recurring theme of his recent court appearances

Weinstein, 67, is charged in New York with raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 – charges to which he has pleaded not guilty

Weinstein emerged from his car donning a what appeared to be a pair of slippers on his feet

Weinstein emerged from his car donning a what appeared to be a pair of slippers on his feet

Weinstein emerged from his car donning a what appeared to be a pair of slippers on his feet

Despite facing life in prison if convicted, the disgraced mogul appeared in a jovial mood when he arrived outside Manhattan Criminal Court this morning, sharing a laugh and a joke with his lawyer Donna Rotunno as he gingerly made his way up the courthouse steps

Despite facing life in prison if convicted, the disgraced mogul appeared in a jovial mood when he arrived outside Manhattan Criminal Court this morning, sharing a laugh and a joke with his lawyer Donna Rotunno as he gingerly made his way up the courthouse steps

 Despite facing life in prison if convicted, the disgraced mogul appeared in a jovial mood when he arrived outside Manhattan Criminal Court this morning, sharing a laugh and a joke with his lawyer Donna Rotunno as he gingerly made his way up the courthouse steps

Cutting a frail figure as he hunched over his now-infamous stroller, Weinstein, with a pair of house slippers on his feet, hauled himself up the steps and shuffled his way into the courthouse

Cutting a frail figure as he hunched over his now-infamous stroller, Weinstein, with a pair of house slippers on his feet, hauled himself up the steps and shuffled his way into the courthouse

Cutting a frail figure as he hunched over his now-infamous stroller, Weinstein, with a pair of house slippers on his feet, hauled himself up the steps and shuffled his way into the courthouse

All smiles: Friday could prove to be a decisive day in the jury selection for Weinstein's impending rape trial

All smiles: Friday could prove to be a decisive day in the jury selection for Weinstein's impending rape trial

All smiles: Friday could prove to be a decisive day in the jury selection for Weinstein’s impending rape trial

Yesterday, Judge James Burke admonished Weinstein calling him 'non-compliant, defiant and challenging' as he denied the defense team's request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom

Yesterday, Judge James Burke admonished Weinstein calling him 'non-compliant, defiant and challenging' as he denied the defense team's request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom

Weinstein laughs his way into court with his attorney

Weinstein laughs his way into court with his attorney

 Yesterday, Judge James Burke admonished Weinstein calling him ‘non-compliant, defiant and challenging’ as he denied the defense team’s request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom

Weinstein cuta frail figure as he hunched over his now-infamous stroller and shuffled into the courtroom - a recurring theme of his recent court appearances

Weinstein cuta frail figure as he hunched over his now-infamous stroller and shuffled into the courtroom - a recurring theme of his recent court appearances

Weinstein cuta frail figure as he hunched over his now-infamous stroller and shuffled into the courtroom – a recurring theme of his recent court appearances 

The ex-producer’s legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor. Weinstein’s attorneys have repeatedly tried – and failed – to paint their client’s trial as a media circus, one which, in their opinion, prevents the 67-year-old from getting a fair trial.

Yesterday, Judge Burke admonished Weinstein calling him ‘non-compliant, defiant and challenging’ as he denied the defense team’s request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom.

Burke previously scolded Weinstein as jury selection was getting underway Tuesday, asking: ‘Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?’ 

He said Thursday he issued the threat after Weinstein was ‘notably non-compliant, defiant and challenging to court officers’ when asked to not use his phone. The judge added: ‘There’s nothing prejudicial or inflammatory about scolding a recalcitrant defendant for repeated violations of a court order if using strong and even hyperbolic language succeeds after stern admonitions have failed.’ 

Weinstein has also complained about press attention, being scrutinized for using his walker and even tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred – who represents some of his accusers – from the trial.

His lawyers also unsuccessfully tried to delay jury selection in light of the new case filed in Los Angeles on Monday, asking for a ‘cooling-off period’ to allow the publicity to subside.

But Judge Burke expressed confidence that the jurors would know that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and he pressed on. He said Thursday: ‘All I meant to do was scare him enough to convince him to discontinue using his phone. I certainly never actually meant I was going to put your client in jail for life nor did I mean that I had pre-judged whether he is guilty or not-guilty or innocent of the charges.’ 

Around 108 prospective jurors were subjected to a pre-screening process today, though only 30-40 advanced through to the selection stage. 

They were led down the hall and into the courtroom at 10:07am this morning. Three potential jurors raised their hands when asked if they knew somebody associated with the case. 

One woman identified herself as a friend of Weinstein’s chief lawyer, Donna Rotunno, but assued she could still remain fair and impartial. A man revealed that he’d served on a bar committee with another of the defendants attorneys, Barry Kamins, but said it wouldn’t affect his impartiality. 

Another man said that he had worked with one of Weinstein’s charities in the past and would be ‘uncomfortable’ if selected to serve.

Forty-four of the potential jurors raised their hands to admit they didn’t believe they could be fair or impartial. Judge Burke didn’t ask for further explanation.

The proceedings were interrupted at 11am by the sound of chanting and percussion instruments bellowing through the courthouse window as an all-female protest against Weinstein was staged outside. 

The some sixty demonstrators, affiliated with the Chilean feminist organization Las Tesis, performed ‘A Rapist in Your Path’, a Chilean feminist performance piece that protests violence against women.

‘It’s not my fault, not where I was, not how I dressed,’ they chanted several times. ‘And the rapist was you!,’ they declared, pointing up to the courthouse. 

When the selection process resumed, between 30-40 people raised their hands to confirm they believe they’re fit to serve on the jury. They were handled a detailed questionnaire, and advanced to the next stage of selection at 11:45am. 

The ex-producer's legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor

The ex-producer's legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor

The ex-producer’s legal team has had little success persuading Burke to rule in their favor

Around 118 prospective jurors will be subjected to a pre-screening process today. They were led down the hall and into the courtroom at 10am this morning

Around 118 prospective jurors will be subjected to a pre-screening process today. They were led down the hall and into the courtroom at 10am this morning

Around 118 prospective jurors will be subjected to a pre-screening process today. They were led down the hall and into the courtroom at 10am this morning

Weinstein has also complained about press attention, being scrutinized for using his walker and even tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred - who represents some of his accusers - from the trial

Weinstein has also complained about press attention, being scrutinized for using his walker and even tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred - who represents some of his accusers - from the trial

Weinstein has also complained about press attention, being scrutinized for using his walker and even tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred – who represents some of his accusers – from the trial

The proceedings were interrupted at 11am by the sound of chanting and percussion instruments bellowing through the courthouse window as an all-female protest against Weinstein was staged outside

The proceedings were interrupted at 11am by the sound of chanting and percussion instruments bellowing through the courthouse window as an all-female protest against Weinstein was staged outside

The proceedings were interrupted at 11am by the sound of chanting and percussion instruments bellowing through the courthouse window as an all-female protest against Weinstein was staged outside

The some sixty demonstrators, dressed in black and red, performed 'A Rapist in Your Path', a Chilean feminist performance piece that protests violence against women

The some sixty demonstrators, dressed in black and red, performed 'A Rapist in Your Path', a Chilean feminist performance piece that protests violence against women

The some sixty demonstrators, dressed in black and red, performed ‘A Rapist in Your Path’, a Chilean feminist performance piece that protests violence against women 

‘It’s not my fault, not where I was, not how I dressed,’ they chanted several times. ‘And the rapist was you!,’ they declared, pointing up to the courthouse.

The proceedings paused momentarily while the demonstration took place. When they resumed between 30-40 people raised their hands to confirm they believe they're fit to serve on the jury. They were handled a detailed questionnaire, and advanced to the next stage of selection at 11:45am

The proceedings paused momentarily while the demonstration took place. When they resumed between 30-40 people raised their hands to confirm they believe they're fit to serve on the jury. They were handled a detailed questionnaire, and advanced to the next stage of selection at 11:45am

The proceedings paused momentarily while the demonstration took place. When they resumed between 30-40 people raised their hands to confirm they believe they’re fit to serve on the jury. They were handled a detailed questionnaire, and advanced to the next stage of selection at 11:45am

In total, more than 2,000 jury summonses were sent ahead of Weinstein’s case and hundreds have appeared in batches through Burke’s courtroom this week. 

As things stand currently, Judge Burke is tentatively penciling in January 22 as the start of opening arguments. 

Just 30 potential jurors from a pool of 120 remained at the end of Wednesday, day two of jury selection. On Tuesday 36 remained, meaning there are currently 96-106 people advancing in the process. They were each given questionnaires featuring 72 questions and will report back for further questioning on January 16.

Thursday was the third day of jury selection in the case, with an additional 120 potential jurors called in for pre-screening. A murmur went through the courtroom when Burke announced the name of the defendant before delivering instructions about jury service.

But Burke was forced to cut the proceedings short before noon because the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi, had a medical issue. 

When asked by Burke how she was feeling on Friday, ‘much, much better,’ she responded to the judge.  

The questionnaire given to potential jurors asks, among other things, if they could ignore media coverage and decide the case based only on evidence heard in court. They were also told the trial will last six weeks, which could weed out many parents, college students and others with pressing day-to-day obligations.

On Tuesday some said that reading Ronan Farrow’s book means they could not give Weinstein a fair trial. Pulitzer Prize winner Farrow’s book tells the story of his quest to expose Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty and maintains that any sexual activity was consensual. 

Weinstein, 67, brought The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak and Hollywood Classics to court

Weinstein, 67, brought The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak and Hollywood Classics to court

Weinstein, 67, brought The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak and Hollywood Classics to court 

Dozens of potential jurors have been released from consideration because they’re returning to college in the coming weeks. More than 90 were ousted after they admitted they couldn’t possibly be impartial in Weinstein’s case because of what they knew about the case already.

Another potential juror said they had a friend who had an encounter with the former Hollywood mogul.  

Jury selection is expected to stretch on for at least two weeks, far longer than for a non-celebrity trial, with lawyers delving into each potential juror’s knowledge and opinions about the case. Twelve jurors and six alternates need to be selected.

‘The defense team is concerned about widespread media coverage of sexual assault and harassment claims against Weinstein, and of jurors prejudging the case,’ said Cornell University law professor Valerie Hans. On the other side of the case, ‘prosecutors are wary of prospective jurors who might reveal a predisposition to blame the victims, even in this age of #MeToo.’

In picking a jury, defense lawyers typically want jurors who can ‘think outside of the box’ and look skeptically at a prosecution case, while prosecutors seek people with a linear and methodical mindset, said Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a jury consultant and University of Dayton law professor.

For insight into prospective jurors’ thinking, lawyers have taken to scouring their public social media postings, Hoffmeister said, which is fine under court rules as long as the lawyers don’t follow or friend them or send them messages.

Weinstein brought two books to court. One was The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak and Hollywood Classics; the other a vintage edition of Ken Follett’s novel The Pillars of the Earth.

The former is a biography about Herman and Joseph Mankiewicz – whose Oscar-winning films included ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘All About Eve’. One brother fell prey to gambling and alcoholism. The other rose to fame while carrying on sexual affairs with Hollywood actresses and was fired after a period of drug use.

Weinstein founded his film production company Miramax with his brother Bob in 1979.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said she did not advise Weinstein to bring outside reading material to court.

‘Judge Burke did,’ she said. ‘During jury selection, Mr. Weinstein has much downtime outside the presence of the jury pool. He is not reading in the courtroom.’

One Amazon critic of the Sydney Ladensohn Stern book said the brothers its about were ‘the most brilliant and charismatic men ever to ply their sometimes dubious trade in Hollywood’.

Paul Callan, a former prosecutor and defense attorney, said he did not think the book was part of Weinstein’s courtroom strategy.

‘It doesn’t strike me as a story that has a tale of innocence or redemption, which is the kind of story you would want to present to the jury if you were using this as a mechanism,’ said Callan.

Weinstein was charged with sexual assault in May 2018. When he surrendered to New York police, he carried the biography of Elia Kazan, a movie director who stirred controversy for testifying before the House of Representatives’ Un-American Activities Committee about communism in 1952.

Moments after he stepped into the courtroom, Weinstein's pretrial proceedings took a shocking twist when the former producer's co-counsel Arthur Aidala (above) threw an unprecedented legal curveball by demanding Judge James Burke ban all media coverage of the jury selection - despite the process being nearly half-way complete

Moments after he stepped into the courtroom, Weinstein's pretrial proceedings took a shocking twist when the former producer's co-counsel Arthur Aidala (above) threw an unprecedented legal curveball by demanding Judge James Burke ban all media coverage of the jury selection - despite the process being nearly half-way complete

Moments after he stepped into the courtroom, Weinstein’s pretrial proceedings took a shocking twist when the former producer’s co-counsel Arthur Aidala (above) threw an unprecedented legal curveball by demanding Judge James Burke ban all media coverage of the jury selection – despite the process being nearly half-way complete

In total, more than 2,000 jury summonses were sent ahead of Weinstein's case and hundreds have appeared in batches through Burke's courtroom this week

In total, more than 2,000 jury summonses were sent ahead of Weinstein's case and hundreds have appeared in batches through Burke's courtroom this week

In total, more than 2,000 jury summonses were sent ahead of Weinstein’s case and hundreds have appeared in batches through Burke’s courtroom this week

Judge Burke previously scolded Weinstein as jury selection was getting underway Tuesday, asking: 'Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?'

Judge Burke previously scolded Weinstein as jury selection was getting underway Tuesday, asking: 'Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?'

Judge Burke previously scolded Weinstein as jury selection was getting underway Tuesday, asking: ‘Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?’ 

Yesterday, Judge Burke admonished Weinstein calling him 'non-compliant, defiant and challenging' as he denied the defense team's request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom

Yesterday, Judge Burke admonished Weinstein calling him 'non-compliant, defiant and challenging' as he denied the defense team's request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom

Yesterday, Judge Burke admonished Weinstein calling him ‘non-compliant, defiant and challenging’ as he denied the defense team’s request that he recuse himself after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom

Why the jury selection process will take up to two weeks and how they will be selected

Selecting the jury for the Hollywood mogul’s rape and sexual assault trial is likely to be a painstaking, weeks-long process, made complicated by the high stakes, heavy publicity and public revulsion toward him. 

Jury selection is expected to stretch on for at least two weeks, far longer than for a non-celebrity trial, with lawyers delving into each potential juror’s knowledge and opinions about the case. Opening statements shouldn’t be expected before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 20, the judge said.

The prospective jurors were given questionnaires asking, among other things, if they could ignore media coverage and decide the case based only on evidence heard in court. They were also told the trial will last six weeks, which could weed out many parents, college students and others with pressing day-to-day obligations. 

Jury questionnaires are commonly used to identify subject areas like their knowledge of and potential links to the case or any prior experiences with law enforcement that can then allow follow-up questions back in the courtroom before selection.

Potential jurors raise their hands and explain why they can't serve on the jury of film producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial

Potential jurors raise their hands and explain why they can't serve on the jury of film producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial

Potential jurors raise their hands and explain why they can’t serve on the jury of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial

‘The defense team is concerned about widespread media coverage of sexual assault and harassment claims against Weinstein, and of jurors prejudging the case,’ said Cornell University law professor Valerie Hans. On the other side of the case, ‘prosecutors are wary of prospective jurors who might reveal a predisposition to blame the victims, even in this age of #MeToo.’ 

Prospective jurors were introduced as a group to Weinstein and were read a list of names that could come up at trial, including actresses Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron and Rosie Perez. 

120 potential jurors appeared before the court Tuesday – 36 advanced to the next stage of the process. A further 120 appeared Wednesday with 30 being selected to continue.

New pools of prospective jurors will be summoned to court each morning in the coming days – around 120 per day will be called.

A jury summons was sent to 2,000 New Yorkers – five times the number for a typical trial.

Experts said lawyers for Weinstein and the prosecution would need to be wary of jurors who may try to mask their bias in order to serve on a headline-grabbing trial. 

Some jurors may seek to use the trial as a means of advancing a personal cause, a concern in a case that has become a flashpoint for ending sexual harassment.  

Weinstein in October lost a bid to move the trial to suburban Long Island or to Albany, New York state’s capital. He said intense media scrutiny made it impossible for jurors to give him a fair trial in Manhattan.

The defense asked at Monday’s hearing that the jury be sequestered, a request the judge denied. 

Weinstein transformed the independent film industry with award-winning films like ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and ‘The English Patient.’

Several criminal defense attorneys said it is unusual for a defendant to bring outside reading material to a trial, especially one in which the defendant is facing such serious charges.

Defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said he generally asks clients to carry a notepad and pen rather than a novel to jury selection so they can participate in the vetting process.

Lefcourt said reading might be a way for Weinstein to cope with anxiety during the trial, which began the same day that the Los Angeles district attorney announced new sexual assault charges against him.

‘Maybe he thinks his lawyers have it covered and rather than show any kinds of emotion, he’d rather have his head down,’ he said.

Opening statements shouldn’t be expected before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 20, the judge said.

Weinstein is charged in New York with raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on Haleyi in 2006. He could get life in prison if convicted. In a Los Angeles case, which will be tried later, he is accused of sexually assaulting two women on back-to-back nights in 2013.

The former studio boss has said any sexual activity was consensual. Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades.

The trial is expected to last at least six weeks.

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court Thursday after the judge in his trial blocked a moved to remove him from proceedings

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court Thursday after the judge in his trial blocked a moved to remove him from proceedings

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court Thursday after the judge in his trial blocked a moved to remove him from proceedings

Weinstein, flanked by his attorney Donna Rotunno, has also complained about press attention and being scrutinized for using his walker and tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred - who represents some of his accusers - from the trial

Weinstein, flanked by his attorney Donna Rotunno, has also complained about press attention and being scrutinized for using his walker and tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred - who represents some of his accusers - from the trial

Weinstein, flanked by his attorney Donna Rotunno, has also complained about press attention and being scrutinized for using his walker and tried to ban celebrity attorney Gloria Allred – who represents some of his accusers – from the trial

The former studio boss has said any sexual activity was consensual. Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades

The former studio boss has said any sexual activity was consensual. Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades

The former studio boss has said any sexual activity was consensual. Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades 

Lawyer Damon Cheronis argues in front of Judge James Burke during Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial on Wednesday

Lawyer Damon Cheronis argues in front of Judge James Burke during Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial on Wednesday

Lawyer Damon Cheronis argues in front of Judge James Burke during Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial on Wednesday 

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? THE CHARGES AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN

Harvey Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York. 

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades but he only faces five criminal counts in New York – two counts of rape, one count of criminal sexual act and two counts of predatory sexual assault. 

He faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault.  

One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006. Prosecutors say Weinstein raped the second woman, who has not been publicly identified, in 2013. 

Harvey Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York. More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades but he only faces five criminal counts

Harvey Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York. More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades but he only faces five criminal counts

Harvey Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York. More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades but he only faces five criminal counts

Jury selection began Tuesday but finding impartial New York City jurors amid the media frenzy surrounding the Weinstein case will be a challenge for both legal teams, experts said.

Lawyers will likely question potential jurors about their knowledge and opinion of the case, their work history and whether they have been victims of sexual misconduct.

The trial is expected to last for around six weeks.  

Los Angeles prosecutors also charged Weinstein Monday with sexually assaulting two women there on successive nights during Oscar week in 2013.

Lawyers for Weinstein had no immediate comment on the new charges, though he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. 

Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison if he is convicted of the charges filed in LA of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. 

His arraignment has not yet been scheduled and prosecutors will recommend $5 million bail. Weinstein is expected to appear in court in California after his trial in New York is finished.   

Here is what to expect from the trial:

WHO ARE THE ACCUSERS?

One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, pictured in 2017, has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006

One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, pictured in 2017, has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006

One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, pictured in 2017, has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006

More than 80 women have publicly accused Weinstein, 67, of sexual misconduct, helping to fuel the #MeToo movement over the last two years. The criminal charges against him refer to just three accusers.

Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant on a Weinstein Company television show, has said that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Manhattan home in July 2006.

Actress Annabella Sciorra, best known for her role on HBO’s The Sopranos, has said Weinstein raped her in her Manhattan apartment in 1993.

Prosecutors have accused Weinstein of raping another woman in March 2013 in Manhattan. She has not been publicly identified.

Weinstein has said that any sexual encounters he had were consensual.

WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?

Weinstein is charged with a criminal sexual act in the first degree against Haleyi, and with rape for the 2013 allegation. He is charged with predatory sexual assault over both allegations.

Sciorra’s allegation is too old to be the basis of a separate charge, but is a crucial part of the predatory sexual assault charges, which require prosecutors to establish a pattern of serious sex crimes against multiple women.

Predatory sexual assault is the most serious charge against Weinstein, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison.

WHO WILL TESTIFY AGAINST WEINSTEIN?

Haleyi, Sciorra and the 2013 accuser are almost certain to testify in a trial that is expected to last up to eight weeks.

Prosecutors may also call three other women to testify about encounters with Weinstein, even though he is not formally charged with crimes against them. Their testimony is intended to bolster the charges by showing that Weinstein had a consistent pattern of behavior.

Prosecutors have also said that they expect to call Barbara Ziv, a professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania, to testify as an expert on the trauma resulting from sexual assault.

WHAT IS WEINSTEIN’S DEFENSE?

While criminal defendants and their lawyers typically avoid revealing their strategy before trial, Weinstein has dropped some hints.

Weinstein’s lead lawyer, Donna Rotunno, told Reuters that Weinstein had a ‘slew of witnesses ready to go.’ She has said the defense would be introducing emails and text messages to prove that Weinstein’s accusers maintained relationships with him after his alleged assaults.

His lawyers have also said they plan to call psychologist Deborah Davis, of the University of Nevada, Reno, to testify as an expert on memory, suggesting that Weinstein may try to call his accusers’ recollections into question.

Harvey Weinstein was pictured smiling as he arrived at a New York court Monday as his lawyers and a judge handle the final preparation for his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault

Harvey Weinstein was pictured smiling as he arrived at a New York court Monday as his lawyers and a judge handle the final preparation for his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault

Harvey Weinstein was pictured smiling as he arrived at a New York court Monday as his lawyers and a judge handle the final preparation for his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault

WHAT OTHER LEGAL RISKS DOES WEINSTEIN FACE?

Even if he is acquitted in Manhattan, Weinstein faces separate criminal charges announced on Monday by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Lawyer Rotunno declined immediate comment on those charges.

Weinstein was charged with sexually assaulting two unidentified women in 2013, said Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey. He was charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting the other.  

Lacey said the timing of the charges was unrelated to the New York trial.

But there is some connection between the cases. One of the Los Angeles accusers is expected to testify in the New York case to help prosecutors establish what they say was Weinstein’s pattern of forcing himself on young actresses and women trying to break into Hollywood.

Weinstein is expected to appear in court in California after his New York trial, Lacey said.

The Hollywood mogul stumbled up the stairs as he arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on Wednesday

The Hollywood mogul stumbled up the stairs as he arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on Wednesday

The Hollywood mogul stumbled up the stairs as he arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on Wednesday

 

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