fog.png
Wednesday December 8th, 2021 11:32AM

Harvey Weinstein appeals conviction, blames 'cavalier' judge

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — More than a year after Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction, his lawyers are demanding a new trial, arguing in court papers Monday that the landmark #MeToo prosecution that put him behind bars was buoyed by improper rulings from a judge who was “cavalier” in protecting the disgraced movie mogul’s right to a fair trial.

In a 166-page brief filed with a state appellate court, Weinstein's lawyers took repeated aim at Manhattan Judge James Burke, arguing that he swayed the trial’s outcome with repeated rulings favorable to prosecutors — including a decision allowing additional accusers to testify about allegations that never led to criminal charges.

Weinstein's lawyers also challenged Burke's refusal to remove a juror who had written a novel involving predatory older men, as well as his decision to allow prosecutors to have an expert on victim behavior and rape myths testify while rejecting testimony on similar subjects from defense experts.

“Mr. Weinstein had a right to a fair trial by an impartial jury,” lawyers Barry Kamins, John Leventhal and Diana Fabi-Samson wrote in the brief.

“The trial court should have exercised the utmost vigilance in protecting this most important right of the defendant," they wrote. "Instead, the trial court was cavalier in its obligation to safeguard this right and the consequences for Mr. Weinstein were disastrous.”

Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 of a criminal sex act for forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013.

He was acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault stemming from actor Annabella Sciorra’s allegations of a mid-1990s rape — testimony that his lawyers said Monday was so dated it should never have been allowed.

Burke sentenced Weinstein to 23 years in state prison, which his lawyers argued Monday was “unduly harsh and excessive.” Given his previously clean criminal record, renowned career as an Oscar-winning movie producer and history of charitable giving, Weinstein’s lawyers argued he deserved a significantly lighter sentence.

Weinstein is also charged in California with assaulting five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013. His extradition has been delayed because of the pandemic. Weinstein tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after arriving at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo last spring.

Weinstein maintains his innocence and contends that any sexual activity was consensual.

Weinstein's lawyer said at the time of his conviction that he was “somewhat flabbergasted” by the verdict but that he remained “cautiously optimistic” that he could prevail on appeal. They filed a notice of appeal in April 2020. Arguments are not expected for several months.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment on Monday's filing, saying: “We will respond in our brief to the court.”

Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for several of Weinstein's accusers, said in a statement that the appeal “is a desperate attempt to undo a fair trial overseen by Judge Burke and the findings of a well-reasoned and thoughtful jury. We are confident the appeal will not alter his conviction and sentence.”

In their filing, Weinstein's lawyers argued that he was tried in “carnival-like conditions," with protesters chanting “rapist” outside the courthouse, and that Burke should have acceded to their demands to delay or move the trial, particularly after Los Angeles authorities announced the new charges against Weinstein just as jury selection was starting.

Burke, they wrote, “refused to acknowledge any possible prejudice injuring to (Weinstein) from either the charges unveiled with great fanfare in California or the intimidation tactics in and around the courthouse."

The judge's decision to allow testimony from three women whose allegations did not lead to charges in the New York case “overwhelmed” the trial with “excessive, random, and highly dubious prior bad act evidence.”

Rules vary by state on calling witnesses to testify about “prior bad acts” outside the actual charges. New York’s rules, shaped by a landmark decision in a 1901 poisoning case, are among the more restrictive.

In the case, People v. Molineux, the state’s highest court reversed the conviction of a chemist accused of poisoning a rival with cyanide-laced seltzer because prosecutors had relied too heavily on evidence suggesting he previously poisoned someone else.

Weinstein's lawyers argued that extra testimony went beyond detailing motive, opportunity, intent or a common scheme or plan and essentially put him on trial for crimes he wasn't charged with and hadn't had an opportunity to defend himself against.

“Because the evidence on the charged offenses was weak, the prosecution inundated the jury with copious tales of alleged misconduct (much of which was not criminal in nature) that served no legitimate evidentiary purpose but merely depicted Weinstein as loathsome,” Weinstein's lawyers wrote.

__

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Harvey Weinstein appeals conviction, blames 'cavalier' judge
Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers are demanding a new trial more than a year after his rape conviction
4:49PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Police chief: Kneeling on Floyd's neck violated policy
The Minneapolis police chief says now-fired Officer Derek Chauvin violated departmental policy in pinning his knee on George Floyd’s neck and keeping him down after Floyd had stopped resisting and was in distress
4:48PM ( 6 minutes ago )
FDA OKs first new ADHD drug in over a decade for children
U.S. regulators have approved the first new drug in over a decade for children with ADHD, which causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity
4:39PM ( 15 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Atlanta's Hunter has nonsurgical procedure on ailing knee
Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter continues to struggle with an ailing right knee
4:44PM ( 9 minutes ago )
EXPLAINER: Doctor’s testimony details Floyd’s heart activity
A doctor who treated George Floyd the night he died said Floyd had no pulse and could not be revived by commonly used methods such as shocking his heart back into a normal rhythm
4:42PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: Ex-diplomat named as US Global COVID coordinator
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has appointed a former veteran diplomat and humanitarian aid chief to be a special envoy for U.S. coronavirus vaccine and prevention efforts
4:35PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Alderson says some Mets hesitating to get shots
Some New York Mets players have hesitated to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, and that's prompted the team to set up education efforts
3:58PM ( 56 minutes ago )
The Latest: Illinois outbreak traced to indoor event at bar
An indoor event at a rural Illinois bar led to 46 cases of COVID-19,  a school closure and one resident of a long-term care facility being hospitalized
3:58PM ( 56 minutes ago )
The Latest: UN COVAX program ramps up, but inequity persists
The United Nations says the U.N.-backed program to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people has delivered more than 36 million doses to 86 poor and developing countries to date
3:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Police chief: Kneeling on Floyd's neck violated policy
The Minneapolis police chief says now-fired Officer Derek Chauvin violated departmental policy in pinning his knee on George Floyd’s neck and keeping him down after Floyd had stopped resisting and was in distress
4:48PM ( 6 minutes ago )
FDA OKs first new ADHD drug in over a decade for children
U.S. regulators have approved the first new drug in over a decade for children with ADHD, which causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity
4:39PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Officials: 2nd breach concern in Florida phosphate reservoir
A drone discovered a possible second breach in a large Florida wastewater reservoir as more pumps were headed to the site to prevent a catastrophic flood
4:37PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Gaetz says he won't resign over 'false' sex allegations
Embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz says he will not resign from Congress
4:32PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Eating our lunch: Biden points to China in development push
Pushing for trillions of dollars in development spending, President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers are pointing to a booming, ambitious China they say is threatening to quickly overtake the United States in global clout and capacity
4:31PM ( 23 minutes ago )