UPDATED with official statement of split: After days of speculation, Harvey Weinstein and his primary defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman have officially parted ways. The anticipated move comes less than five months before a criminal trial involving multiple rape claims against the disgraced producer is expected to begin. If found guilty, Weinstein could face the rest of his life behind bars in a New York state prison.
Both parties said in a statement (read it in full below) Thursday that Brafman’s exit was “amicable”. Weinstein’s reps said he would announce a new legal team sometime next week.
Regardless of who is hired, a new team is expected to lead to a delay in the trial which is scheduled to begin in May.
PREVIOUSLY, January 14 AM: Less than four months before a criminal trial is set to start that could see Harvey Weinstein behind bars for life, the much accused producer’s primary and very public defense lawyer is stepping down.
Benjamin Brafman will move to have New York Supreme Court Justice Jame Burke give the green light to his exit, I’ve learned. Certain to throw a spanner in the works, this departure plan comes less than two months before another scheduled hearing in March on the rape case.
Reps for Weinstein officially said that there was “nothing new to report right now” on the lawyer front.
However, sources tell me that the disgraced producer was upset, to put it mildly, about his long time lawyer Brafman not proving successful in getting the matter tossed out late last year. In a December 20 hearing in Lower Manhattan and after weeks of docket and media salvos from Brafman and the Manhattan D.A.’s office, Justice Burke quickly ruled that all the remaining counts against Weinstein stand and have the case proceed to trial, which is pencilled in to start in May.
The exit of Brafman echos a pattern that the now imprisoned Bill Cosby had of pink slipping attorneys when he didn’t get the rulings or results he sought in his legal battles over 2004 rape of Andrea Constand.
Presently having gone through more than a dozen lawyers, the man once called ‘America’s Dad’ was was sentenced in September 2018 to three to 10 years in prison for the assault of the former Temple University employee.
Along with being accused by more than 60 women of sexual assault or sexual harassment, Weinstein is under investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the NYPD probe set to go to trial this spring. Additional allegations against Weinstein have been reviewed by the LAPD, which sent an initial trio of cases to the L.A. County D.A. on February 8. Another case was handed over to that same office in in August. As UK police continue their investigation, the Beverly Hills Police passed two cases of sexual assault that they say occurred in their jurisdiction to Lacey’s office on January 2.
Here’s the official statement:
Harvey Weinstein and his Criminal Defense Lawyer Benjamin Brafman have agreed to part ways and Mr. Weinstein has authorized Mr. Brafman to formally notify Judge Burke of his decision to withdraw as counsel for Mr. Weinstein in connection with all legal matters currently pending.
Both parties have agreed to part ways amicably and Mr. Brafman has agreed to cooperate fully with new counsel for Mr. Weinstein so as to ensure an orderly transition.
Mr. Weinstein praised Mr. Brafman for his legal work to date and Mr. Brafman reiterated his belief that Mr. Weinstein would be exonerated of the charges that have been filed against him and Brafman personally wished Mr. Weinstein the best of luck as he defends the case and the accusations that Mr. Weinstein has vehemently denied.
Mr. Weinstein intends to introduce his new legal team by early next week.
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