Harvey Weinstein Says He Was Denied a Fair Trial in Rape Conviction Appeal

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Lindsay Weinberg
·3 min read
Harvey Weinstein Says He Was Denied a Fair Trial in Rape Conviction Appeal
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Harvey Weinstein says he did not get a fair trial, according to an appeal his lawyers filed in New York on Monday, April 5, and obtained by E! News.

The disgraced movie producer, 69, was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2020, after a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting a former production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006 and raping actress Jessica Mann in the third degree in 2013.

His appeal alleges he was denied his constitutional right to receive a fair trial with an impartial jury. It includes seven points and requests a reversal on both convictions and a dismissal of the charge of third degree rape.

The document claims the court refused to dismiss a juror "who had written an autobiographical book about the predations of older men against younger women, and who lied about the substance of the book" during questioning, according to the appeal.

Weinstein's attorneys—Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins—state in the appeal that they made a motion, which was denied, to discharge the juror as "grossly unqualified," after she allegedly lied to the court about reviewing a book with a storyline that "mirrored" the topics of the trial.

Hollywood's Many Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct

The lawyers also claimed there was a "highly volatile and prejudicial atmosphere" at the trial, with almost "carnival-like conditions." They wrote, "Mr. Weinstein was tried in a venue, the atmosphere of which was permeated with negative publicity about him and his alleged relationships with women," adding, "Once the trial commenced, it was clear that the jury would be facing a daily barrage of improper influence and outright intimidation."

His team points to the publicity surrounding the case, including a press conference that California state prosecutors held on the first day, as well as chanting activists outside that could allegedly be heard through open windows in court.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein

A spokesperson for Weinstein provided a press release to NBC News on April 5, which claims the court "woefully neglected its obligations" to give the Oscar winner a fair trial. Therefore, his team asserts that his 23-year sentence is unconstitutional.

It reads in part, "Mr. Harvey Weinstein's appellate court brief is a damning indictment of his criminal prosecution. A prosecution deeply influenced by intense and even magnified moral outrage over claimed sexual misbehavior of powerful men, special interest groups seeking to benefit off public fury, and sensational (often inaccurate or prejudiced) media coverage."

It states the trial court had a "special obligation to safeguard" Weinstein and his rights in this "climate."

In addition, today's press release claims the trial judge also "demonstrated his own bias" against Weinstein by "publicly admonishing" him in front of the media over his handling of his cell phone in court. The judge said, "Is this really the way you want to land up in jail for the rest of your life by texting in violation of a court order."

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein

The release concluded with the message, "With a juror who had already prejudged the case against Mr. Weinstein and a trial judge intent on denying him a fair opportunity to defend himself, a verdict of guilt was inevitable."

Following last year's sentencing, District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said in a statement, "We thank the court for imposing a sentence that puts sexual predators and abusive partners in all segments of society on notice."

The DA continued, "We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years. Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent. But they refused to be silent, and they were heard. Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world."

Weinstein remains behind bars at Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in New York. See how Time's Up reacted to his sentencing by clicking here.