Harvey Weinstein has had another court motion denied after the judge overseeing his New York trial for rape and sexual assault refused to continue jury selection in secret.
The disgraced producer’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, clashed with Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke on Friday, over the defense team’s request to hold the next stage of the selection process behind closed doors.
“After we conclude this type of whittling down of the jury pool, we think it’s in both sides’ best interest to do what has been done in other high-profile cases: individual sequestered jury selection,” Aidala explained.
He argued potential jurors, who had completed questionnaires about the case, needed to be able to speak freely when quizzed about their answers by attorneys, but insisted that may not happen if the hearings are open to the international media.
“We’re asking in order for citizens to be as honest and forthright as possible to conduct the jury selection in private,” Aidala stated.
However, the judge was quick to shoot down the claim, to which prosecutors also objected.
The second phase of jury selection, which began on Tuesday, is due to take place from 16 January, with between 30 and 40 people from Friday’s pool of 108 approved to move on to the next stage.
It was the latest setback for Weinstein’s legal team, after Aidala tried and failed to have the trial delayed to allow a “cooling-off period” in the wake of new sex crime charges filed against the former Miramax movie mogul in Los Angeles on Monday.
His call for Justice Burke to recuse himself from the case amid allegations of bias was also shut down on Thursday.
Friday’s proceedings took place as around 60 women, dressed all in black, staged a protest against Weinstein outside the courthouse, chanting, “It’s not my fault, not where I was, not how I dressed. And the rapist was you!”
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to five counts of rape and sexual assault in New York, where he is accused of performing a forcible sex act on a woman in 2006, and attacking a second in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
Opening statements in the trial, which could feature stars like Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek as witnesses, are due to begin on 22 January.
If convicted, Weinstein could be ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
– Cover Media0