Things went off the rails in court on Friday when Arthur Aidala, one of Weinstein’s attorneys, filed an unprecedented motion claiming that potential jurors have not been able to speak freely during the screening process due to the international media coverage on this case, according to USA Today.
This motion was particularly surprising given the fact that the jury selection process is already more than halfway complete, which led some to think that Aidala was just trying to stall for time.
“Most people do not speak in front of international media,” Aidala told Judge James Burke.
“In order for citizens to be as honest and forthright as possible, we ask that jury selection be done in private.”
Burke, however, was not having any of it.
“That’s against the law! I’ll read this, but I’m generally familiar with this form of the law… I’m disagreeing with you on virtually every level,” the judge exclaimed.
“If this is inconsistent with having a transparent jury selection, it will be denied,” the judge added.
While the judge said that he would look over the motion either later in the day or over the weekend, Deadline reported that it “looked fairy DOA.”
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi shut down the motion as well.
“Now they want each person to be (interviewed) in private?” she said. “I don’t think there’s any precedent for doing that.”
Aidala wrote in his motion that his team had thoroughly reviewed the questionnaires completed by potential jurors, and that some of them had a clear bias against Weinstein. He wrote:
“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.”
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Weinstein has been hit with five sex crime charges in New York, and he is facing life in prison if convicted.
He is also expected to soon be facing similar charges in Los Angeles, where District Attorney Jackie Lacey has taken two years to build a case against him.
“Two years means the investigators and prosecutors have vetted every possible witness and lead. They explore every nook and cranny of these cases. They’ve thought through all the defense’s potential tactics,” said Dmitry Gorin, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. “Time is a valuable asset in an investigation.”
Just a few years ago, Weinstein was arguably the most powerful movie producer in Hollywood and was known for being a fixture on the awards show circuit.
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During that time, he was also a mega-donor to the Democratic Party with strong connections to people like Barack Obama and the Clintons.
Over the past three years, Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by countless women, which has made him a pariah in both the film and political worlds.
Opening arguments for his trial in New York are currently scheduled to take place on January 22, and if just his jury selection has been this explosive, it’s likely that his trial will be one for the books.
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