Day two of fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial in New York was a disaster for the former Miramax chief.
First, a play by his lawyers to delay jury selection claiming that the new rape charges brought against him in Los Angeles yesterday would prejudice the Manhattan jury was flatly rejected.
Weinstein’s attorneys had argued this morning that there was a plot against their client, saying that it was no coincidence charges were brought in L.A. on the first day of his trial in New York.
As the New York Daily News reports Justice James Burke said the case in Los Angeles was “next to meaningless” where the current trial is concerned. “Stop trying to ring a bell that really has no resonance,” he told Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala.
Justice Burke also informed potential jurors that having heard of Weinstein or being familiar with the accusations against him did not disqualify them from serving. Nonetheless, he added, “I noted there was not too much reaction when the defendant’s name was read.”
Still, more than 40 of the 120 potential jurors had to be dismissed when they said they already believed Weinstein to be guilty of the charges that could land him a life sentence.
“Without hearing any evidence, you would find the defendant guilty?” Burke asked one woman. “Yes,” she answered. Another 42 people followed suit before filing out of the courtroom.
Weinstein, meanwhile, did himself no favors, almost landing in jail when he repeatedly ignored Burke’s warnings not to use his cell phone during the proceedings.
“What did I say would happen if he so much as has a cellphone or electronic device since there have been repeated violations of this, including some on the record?” Judge Burke asked Aidala.
Addressing Weinstein directly, Burke asked, “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?”
Things were no better for Weinstein on the street. Yesterday, Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette, and a crowd of other accusers gathered outside the courthouse
“Today is a day for us to honor how far we’ve come and how much we’ve endured to get here,” McGowan told the crowd. “We are free. We are beautiful. We are strong. And you will never take that from us.”
Weinstein has denied all allegations of criminal conduct.
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