Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys want his rape trial moved to Long Island or Albany, citing the “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding the courthouse in Manhattan.
Weinstein is set to go on trial on Sept. 9 on five charges of rape and sexual assault. The disgraced producer faces a potential life term if convicted.
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In a motion to the appellate court in Manhattan, attorney Arthur Aidala argued that the swarm of media attention surrounding the case and the phalanx of reporters at the Centre Street courthouse every day will prejudice the case against Weinstein.
“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate, and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” Aidala wrote.
He suggested that the case be moved to Albany County, Suffolk County, or another county within New York State.
Aidala cited incessant media coverage from the New York Post and other local outlets, as well as two Weinstein books that will be published during the trial: “She Said” from New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey; and “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow.
Aidala asked for a hearing on the motion on Aug. 26, just two weeks before the trial is expected to get underway. He also asked for a stay of the criminal case to allow for a decision on the motion.
In another last-minute move, the prosecution informed that court last week that it intends to re-indict Weinstein. That move would allow for “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra to testify against him. The defense prevailed on Justice James Burke to exclude Sciorra’s testimony earlier this month, on the grounds that her claims were not presented to the grand jury.