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Judges mull Harvey Weinstein retrial – reports

Several US appellate judges expressed concerns during a hearing on Wednesday over how the 2020 trial of disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein was handled, according to media reports from the courtroom.

The disgraced Hollywood mogul was sentenced to 23 years in jail last year after a jury found him guilty of rape and sexual assault. He currently faces additional charges of sexual misconduct, with a maximum penalty of 140 years behind bars. 

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Ghislaine Maxwell speaks with Bobbi Sternheim as defense witness Cimberly Espinosa is questioned by lawyer Christian Everdell during the trial of Maxwell, the Jeffrey Epstein associate accused of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, December 16, 2021. © REUTERS / Jane Rosenberg
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Weinstein’s legal team believes he did not receive a fair trial because the judge wrongfully permitted excessive testimony, whose sole goal was to defame his character. They argued that the judge should not have allowed the testimony of three women who claimed that Weinstein had sexually assaulted them, because their allegations were not part of the case.

The defense also said Weinstein declined to personally testify in court partly because the judge allowed prosecutors to ask him about as many as 28 incidents unrelated to the charges he was facing at the time.

Three of the five justices on a New York appeals panel that examined the defense’s arguments during a hearing on Wednesday appeared to share these concerns, according to media reports from the courtroom. Judge Sallie Manzanet-Daniels was quoted as suggesting the testimonies were “overkill” and a “pile-on with three uncharged complainants, three uncharged victims.”

“Let’s inflame the jury’s heart by telling them that he beat up his brother during a meeting,” she said. “I don’t see how there’s a balance there on that.”

In a similar vein, Judge Angela Mazzarelli asked prosecutors why it was permitted to question Weinstein about the time he supposedly threw a table at an employee in the late 1980s, and allegedly threatened to cut off someone’s genitals.

Judge Judith Gische said that the jury’s verdict should be based on the charges, and “not based on the fact that this is just a horrible person.”

“He doesn’t get convicted because he’s a bad guy. He gets convicted for these particular crimes,” Gische said, noting that the prosecution’s arguments were “rubbing me the wrong way.”

The judges expressed interest in a retrial or a conviction reversal, according to Newsweek.

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(L) Harvey Weinstein. © Getty Images / Alexander Koerner; (R) Angelina Jolie. © AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
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Assistant District Attorney Valerie Figueredo defended the handling of the 2020 trial, saying that the judge in that case “reached a fair compromise” and “did not allow general brutish behavior.” She argued that the permitted testimonies were necessary because they were “indicative of how the defendant lived his life,” calling the jury’s guilty verdict “fair and appropriate.”

The ruling on the appeal is expected next spring, according to Deadline. Newsweek reported that the panel is expected to decide whether to call for a retrial in January. One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Damon Cheronis, said the defense was “hopeful” after Wednesday’s hearing.

The allegations of rape and sexual assault against Weinstein, a longtime producer and the co-founder of a now-defunct film studio, were brought to light in 2017. The case is one of the most famous examples of the #MeToo movement, a campaign to expose sexual misconduct by public figures.

https://ift.tt/3299FOu 17, 2021 at 04:03PM
from RT – Daily news

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