Harvey Weinstein smiled as he arrived back at court on his walker Tuesday as the contentious jury selection in his rape and sexual assault trial entered its sixth day.
Supermodel Gigi Hadid was named among the potential jurors Monday, telling a judge that she thinks she would be able to ‘keep an open mind on the facts’.
She was part of the latest pool of 120 people summoned for jury service in the case in New York. Hadid, who lives in Manhattan and studied criminal psychology at The New School, said she has met Weinstein and actress Salma Hayek, a potential witness, but could remain impartial. She will return Thursday for additional questioning.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women, and faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault. His trial began January 6 and could last up to two months.
Judge James Burke has warned potential jurors not to take to social media about the case, explaining that those who already have done so ‘may be held in contempt of court and face serious consequences up to and including 30 days in jail and a significant fine’. He added: ‘So, don’t do that.’
A more intensive phase of jury selection is expected to begin Thursday in which lawyers will ask more detailed questions about jurors’ backgrounds. By the end of the first week of selection 360 potential jurors were summoned with 106 passing pre-screening.
Harvey Weinstein smiles as arrives at New York Criminal Court for his ongoing sexual assault trial in Manhattan Tuesday
Supermodel Gigi Hadid is in the running to be a juror in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial after telling a judge Monday that she thinks she would be able to ‘keep an open mind on the facts’. She is pictured leaving court
Weinstein, 67, once one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, made his mark with critically acclaimed films such as ‘The English Patient’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love.’ He has arrived at every day of his trial hobbling and a using a walker.
Potential jurors have each been given questionnaires featuring 72 questions and will report back for further questioning on January 16. The questionnaire asks if they could ignore media coverage and decide the case based only on evidence heard in court. They were also told the trial will last six weeks, which could weed out many parents, college students and others with pressing day-to-day obligations.
One potential juror told the court last week that she could not be impartial because a friend had had an ‘encounter’ with the embattled movie mogul in his hotel room.
Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused him of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Weinstein has denied the allegations, saying any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
Allegations against Weinstein helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which women have gone public with misconduct allegations against powerful men in business and politics.
Friday’s jury selection proceedings were punctuated by a protest, with about 100 women carrying pots and pans dancing across the street from the courthouse.
Defense attorney Damon Cheronis complained to the judge: ‘It’s this type of atmosphere that makes it impossible for Mr. Weinstein to get a fair trial.’
Why the jury selection process will take up to two weeks and how they will be selected
Selecting the jury for the Hollywood mogul’s rape and sexual assault trial is likely to be a painstaking, weeks-long process, made complicated by the high stakes, heavy publicity and public revulsion toward him.
Jury selection is expected to stretch on for at least two weeks, far longer than for a non-celebrity trial, with lawyers delving into each potential juror’s knowledge and opinions about the case. Opening statements shouldn’t be expected before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 20, the judge said.
The prospective jurors were given questionnaires asking, among other things, if they could ignore media coverage and decide the case based only on evidence heard in court. They were also told the trial will last six weeks, which could weed out many parents, college students and others with pressing day-to-day obligations.
Jury questionnaires are commonly used to identify subject areas like their knowledge of and potential links to the case or any prior experiences with law enforcement that can then allow follow-up questions back in the courtroom before selection.
Potential jurors raise their hands and explain why they can’t serve on the jury of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial
‘The defense team is concerned about widespread media coverage of sexual assault and harassment claims against Weinstein, and of jurors prejudging the case,’ said Cornell University law professor Valerie Hans. On the other side of the case, ‘prosecutors are wary of prospective jurors who might reveal a predisposition to blame the victims, even in this age of #MeToo.’
Prospective jurors were introduced as a group to Weinstein and were read a list of names that could come up at trial, including actresses Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron and Rosie Perez.
New pools of prospective jurors will be summoned to court each morning in the coming days – around 120 per day will be called. A jury summons was sent to 2,000 New Yorkers – five times the number for a typical trial.
Experts said lawyers for Weinstein and the prosecution would need to be wary of jurors who may try to mask their bias in order to serve on a headline-grabbing trial.
Some jurors may seek to use the trial as a means of advancing a personal cause, a concern in a case that has become a flashpoint for ending sexual harassment.
Weinstein in October lost a bid to move the trial to suburban Long Island or to Albany, New York state’s capital. He said intense media scrutiny made it impossible for jurors to give him a fair trial in Manhattan.
The defense also asked that the jury be sequestered, a request the judge denied.
Justice James Burke last week refused to take himself off the case, after the defense team accused him of bias when he dressed down Weinstein for repeatedly defying an order to stop texting in the courtroom.
In picking a jury, defense lawyers typically want jurors who can ‘think outside of the box’ and look skeptically at a prosecution case, while prosecutors seek people with a linear and methodical mindset, said Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a jury consultant and University of Dayton law professor.
For insight into prospective jurors’ thinking, lawyers have taken to scouring their public social media postings, Hoffmeister said, which is fine under court rules as long as the lawyers don’t follow or friend them or send them messages.
Opening statements shouldn’t be expected before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 20, the judge said.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW? THE CHARGES AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN
Harvey Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades but he only faces five criminal counts in New York – two counts of rape, one count of criminal sexual act and two counts of predatory sexual assault.
He faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault.
One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006. Prosecutors say Weinstein raped the second woman, who has not been publicly identified, in 2013.
Harvey Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York. More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades but he only faces five criminal counts
Jury selection began January 7 but finding impartial New York City jurors amid the media frenzy surrounding the Weinstein case will be a challenge for both legal teams, experts said.
Lawyers will likely question potential jurors about their knowledge and opinion of the case, their work history and whether they have been victims of sexual misconduct.
The trial is expected to last for around six weeks.
Los Angeles prosecutors have also charged Weinstein with sexually assaulting two women there on successive nights during Oscar week in 2013.
Lawyers for Weinstein had no immediate comment on the new charges, though he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison if he is convicted of the charges filed in LA of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.
His arraignment has not yet been scheduled and prosecutors will recommend $5 million bail. Weinstein is expected to appear in court in California after his trial in New York is finished.
Here is what to expect from the trial:
WHO ARE THE ACCUSERS?
One of the women Weinstein was charged with assaulting, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, pictured in 2017, has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2006
More than 80 women have publicly accused Weinstein, 67, of sexual misconduct, helping to fuel the #MeToo movement over the last two years. The criminal charges against him refer to just three accusers.
Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant on a Weinstein Company television show, has said that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Manhattan home in July 2006.
Actress Annabella Sciorra, best known for her role on HBO’s The Sopranos, has said Weinstein raped her in her Manhattan apartment in 1993.
Prosecutors have accused Weinstein of raping another woman in March 2013 in Manhattan. She has not been publicly identified.
Weinstein has said that any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?
Weinstein is charged with a criminal sexual act in the first degree against Haleyi, and with rape for the 2013 allegation. He is charged with predatory sexual assault over both allegations.
Sciorra’s allegation is too old to be the basis of a separate charge, but is a crucial part of the predatory sexual assault charges, which require prosecutors to establish a pattern of serious sex crimes against multiple women.
Predatory sexual assault is the most serious charge against Weinstein, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison.
WHO WILL TESTIFY AGAINST WEINSTEIN?
Haleyi, Sciorra and the 2013 accuser are almost certain to testify in a trial that is expected to last up to eight weeks.
Prosecutors may also call three other women to testify about encounters with Weinstein, even though he is not formally charged with crimes against them. Their testimony is intended to bolster the charges by showing that Weinstein had a consistent pattern of behavior.
Prosecutors have also said that they expect to call Barbara Ziv, a professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania, to testify as an expert on the trauma resulting from sexual assault.
WHAT IS WEINSTEIN’S DEFENSE?
While criminal defendants and their lawyers typically avoid revealing their strategy before trial, Weinstein has dropped some hints.
Weinstein’s lead lawyer, Donna Rotunno, told Reuters that Weinstein had a ‘slew of witnesses ready to go.’ She has said the defense would be introducing emails and text messages to prove that Weinstein’s accusers maintained relationships with him after his alleged assaults.
His lawyers have also said they plan to call psychologist Deborah Davis, of the University of Nevada, Reno, to testify as an expert on memory, suggesting that Weinstein may try to call his accusers’ recollections into question.
Harvey Weinstein was pictured smiling as he arrived at a New York court on January 6 as his lawyers and a judge handle the final preparation for his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault
WHAT OTHER LEGAL RISKS DOES WEINSTEIN FACE?
Even if he is acquitted in Manhattan, Weinstein faces separate criminal charges announced on Monday by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Lawyer Rotunno declined immediate comment on those charges.
Weinstein was charged with sexually assaulting two unidentified women in 2013, said Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey. He was charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting the other.
Lacey said the timing of the charges was unrelated to the New York trial.
But there is some connection between the cases. One of the Los Angeles accusers is expected to testify in the New York case to help prosecutors establish what they say was Weinstein’s pattern of forcing himself on young actresses and women trying to break into Hollywood.
Weinstein is expected to appear in court in California after his New York trial, Lacey said.
The Hollywood mogul stumbled up the stairs as he arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on January 8