Despite being shrivelled up in a New York state jail cell, Harvey Weinstein maintains an uncanny ability to dominate headlines.
News that the disgraced movie mogul is seeking a new trial has been met with widespread disbelief and an outpouring of frustration.
Harvey Weinstein Appeal Slammed by Survivors’ Attorneys: ‘The Jury Has Spoken’ https://t.co/NElxCXZmyv
— Variety (@Variety) April 5, 2021
A little over twelve months ago, the former Hollywood producer was sentenced by Justice James Burke of Manhattan criminal court to 23 years in prison for assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haley and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
The dual conviction was the culmination of a long-running investigation that included a slew of high profile actresses stepping forward thanks to the #MeToo movement. While many of the accusations were unable to be prosecuted, the 23-year sentence was seen as a massive victory for victims handed down by Justice Burke last year.
Weinstein has long maintained his innocence, and in court documents filed by his lawyers on Monday (US time), the producer claimed he was denied a presumption of innocence.
Weinstein’s legal team intend to argue that the jury was allowed to hear testimony from women who alleged Weinstein assaulted them even though their allegations did not result in a criminal charge.
There is also an accusation from the Weinstein camp that one of the jurors had written a novel about predatory older men, then lied during the selection process about her book’s themes.
“Juror No. 11 was unqualified to sit as a juror at Mr Weinstein’s trial from the start and should have been excused for cause upon defence counsel’s discovery that she had misrepresented the subject matter of the book she had authored and was publishing at the time she was serving as a juror,” the appeal said.
The appeal has been filed in the Appellate Division in Manhattan Supreme Court, and in an interview with CNBC, Weinstein’s appellate lawyer Barry Kamins was optimistic about his client’s chances.
“The sentence that was harsh and excessive,” explained Kamins.
“We have filed a 166-page brief outlining several serious mistakes made during the trial, and we are confident that the Appellate Division will find these issues serious enough to require a reversal of the conviction.”
Weinstein is requesting his conviction be overturned, and the third-degree rape charge dismissed. The 69-year-old is also seeking a new trial focused only on the charge of a first-degree criminal sexual act based on the allegations tabled by his former production assistant Miriam Haley.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction to Weinstein’s appeal has been a collective groan, with many online dismayed at the idea that the long-running saga of Harvey Weinstein could yet drag on.
On Monday afternoon, Rosanna Arquette, one of the first women to come forward with accusations against Weinstein, took to Twitter, reacting to Weinstein’s appeal.
There are many more women who have been raped by Weinstein through the years. Many women who had their careers destroyed. And many people in Hollywood who continue to protect him and vilify the survivors The trial in los angeles will have 6 more women ,one was 16 at the time.
— ✌🏼rosanna arquette (@RoArquette) April 5, 2021
Arquette’s tweet triggered an outpouring from fellow survivors, each dismayed by the possibility that the man who inspired the #MeToo movement may yet escape conviction.
A fellow Weinstein accuser, Lou Godbold, also took to Twitter on Monday to express her frustration. Due to the statute of limitations, Godbold was unable to testify in the New York criminal trial.
As a victim of one of those 'prior bad acts' and one of the many Molineux witnesses the judge did not allow, establishing the pattern of predatory behavior was all the influence we could bring to bear outside the statute of limitations, so no, Harvey, you don't get to erase us. https://t.co/Q0nb8zPVGg
— Lou Godbold (@Godbold) April 5, 2021
Weinstein remains under lock and key at the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York but took time out of his prison schedule to offer up thoughts on the appeal process.
“This appeal does a great job in shedding light on my innocence, and I hope that the serious flaws in my prosecution comes through,” said Weinstein via a publicist.
The Harvey Weinstein appeal was to be expected – his legal team flagged their intentions following his 2020 conviction – but now that it’s arrived, the focus shifts to what comes next.
Weinstein still awaits trial in L.A., where he faces 11 additional counts of rape and sexual assault, which could result in 140 years in prison. The motion to appeal has been handed to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and they’ve already released a short statement: “We will respond in our brief to the court.”
A timeline for the appeal trial has yet to be laid out by the Manhattan DA, yet Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for several of Weinstein’s accusers, is confident the conviction will be upheld.
“This is a desperate attempt to undo a fair trial overseen by Judge Burke and the findings of a well-reasoned and thoughtful jury,” said Wigodr in a statement.
“We are confident the appeal will not alter his conviction and sentence”.