Harvey Weinstein’s defense attorney Damon Cheronis said in court Monday that the former mogul is not faking his bad back for jury sympathy and is willing to call his back surgeon to testify that the walker he uses is for real, despite being a subject of widespread ridicule in the media.
“So stop reading newspapers,” New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke advised, denying the request to call the surgeon.
“The jury thinks that he’s faking it,” Cheronis continued, unsuccessfully. “That could be a problem.”
Weinstein’s walker, which he leans on, stooped over, to enter and exit the courtroom, has been the subject of many news stories and even a Saturday Night Live sketch.
With no cameras allowed inside the courtroom, photos of Weinstein during this trial have been limited to his arrivals to and departures from the Lower Manhattan courthouse.
His only interaction with reporters is as he exits, slowly, with his attorneys down the hallway outside the courtroom at the end of each day. He rarely acknowledges the shouted questions from the phalanx, but today seemed to chuckle as someone asked if he’s been keeping up with this season’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, which features a running gag in which Larry David’s co-star Jeff Garlin is repeatedly mistaken for Weinstein by angry passers-by.
The real Weinstein smiled and answered “No” when asked if he’s been watching.
The surgeon request was one of several Cheronis made after the jury was dismissed today. He also unsuccessfully tried to get the judge to reverse a previous decision that kept a New York police detective from taking the stand. The cop, according to Weinstein accuser Jessica Mann, advised her to withhold photographs that might hurt the case against Weinstein, a claim that lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi strenuously denied.
The defense based its request on Mann’s testimony that, when asked by New York police to turn over her cell phone, she expressed concern over naked selfies on the phone. NYPD Detective Nicholas DiGaudio, Mann said, told her “if those pictures or anything like that makes you uncomfortable, we can just delete them and we won’t tell Joan,” a reference to the lead prosecutor.
But Illuzzi repeated her argument that computer technicians had scrutinized Mann’s phone and found that no such deletions had been made since before Mann spoke to the detective. The judge reaffirmed his previous decision not to call the detective to the stand.
And finally, Cheronis called for a mistrial based on the prosecutor’s reference to Weinstein as a “bully” during the questioning of former model Claudia Salinas today, insisting the line of questioning was irrelevant to the case and possibly prejudicial to the jury.
The judge denied the motion for a mistrial, as he has repeatedly throughout the trial that began in early January.
Weinstein’s defense will continue presenting its case tomorrow, with the judge telling jurors today to expect a full day of witness testimony. Final arguments could begin as early as Thursday, with the judge’s jury instructions commencing Tuesday following the Monday President’s Day holiday. (The court is also closed this Wednesday for the Abraham Lincoln holiday.)
One witness not mentioned in this week’s lineup is director and Law & Order; SVU showrunner Warren Leight, who last week was expected to testify about his experiences directing Annabella Sciorra in the 1993 film The Night We Never Met. Sciorra had testified in this trial — to support the allegations of Mann and Miriam Haley — that her sexual assault by Weinstein in the early 1990s led to her abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Leight was expected to testify about Sciorra’s behavior on set prior to the alleged assault. A defense witness last week — producer and former Miramax consultant Paul Feldsher — testified in a similar manner, an approach widely criticized in the press as backfiring on the defense.
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