Emails are emerging as the nucleus of Harvey Weinstein’s defense in the criminal case that could see the much-accused producer behind bars for life but now another set of accusers want to keep that correspondence out of the press and the public eye.
It is a move that one Weinstein lawyer thinks will backfire in his client’s favor in the courts and in the media.
“We are not surprised by the motion seeking a protective order,” said Scott Cousins today in a statement on the filing in federal court in a class action against the producer by 10 women. “The plaintiffs in the Geiss case know that it is only a matter of time until the bankruptcy court releases Mr. Weinstein’s emails to the public, as there is no privileged or confidential information contained in the emails,” he adds.
“In fact, they demonstrate a drastically different tale from what the plaintiffs have alleged in the media and in their legal complaint,” Cousins goes on to say. “Ironically, they are the ones trying to silence Mr. Weinstein and doing all they can to prevent the truth from coming out.”
“This strategy will not bode well, as they are going behind the bankruptcy court’s back which has sole jurisdiction over these emails and the plaintiffs know it,” the Delaware lawyer concludes. “To claim sexual assault and then take such measures to prevent the truth from being heard speaks volumes of their motives.”
With Weinstein planning to use the intimate details of his past correspondence with women to keep his freedom, plaintiffs respectfully disagree with Cousins, as they told a federal judge on Thursday.
“Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court: (a) order Weinstein to produce all documents he received from Debtor relating to Plaintiffs and class members to Plaintiffs’ Counsel, and (b) enter a protective order restricting Weinstein from releasing any of these materials to the media (or any other third party) until an appropriate Confidentiality Order has been entered and Plaintiffs have the opportunity to designate such materials as confidential, if warranted,” declares paperwork submitted yesterday in federal court in the class-action suit first filed back in the end of 2017.
“In fact, Weinstein’s criminal defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told Plaintiffs’ counsel he intended to unleash these emails in the media to sway the court of public opinion,” the memorandum of law, which is accompanied by redacted emails as exhibits, asserts. “Despite these threats, Weinstein has not produced any of the documents with Plaintiffs—and discovery is not open in this case.”
With the clock ticking towards the important December 20 hearing in the courtroom of a New York Supreme Court justice that could decide if the rape case against Weinstein goes forward, the filing of Thursday may be too little, too late. Brafman has made it clear he intends to use elements of the email trove to back his contention that alleged victims continued to pursue relationships with his client after he supposedly assaulted them.
Regardless, the acute move by lawyers for Louisette Geiss and others certainly has earned a sharp reaction from attorneys of the disgraced producers.
In a letter today to the Delaware judge in The Weinstein Company bankruptcy case, where the issue of obtaining Weinstein’s digital correspondence and the evidence it may contain of the true nature of his relationship with several of his accusers has initially been played out, attorney Scott Cousins went straight to what he perceives as obstructionist intentions.
“At no point has Ms. Geiss cited or asserted any privilege or other legal principal on which this Court, or any other, could restrict the use of the e-mails,” the Wilmington based lawyer writes after detailing the negotiations that have occurred over the potentially sensitive material in question. “Her goal is simply to prevent Mr. Weinstein from introducing evidence that would undermine her claims,’ Cousins notes to Judge Mary Walrath (read the letter here).
“Mr. Weinstein believes that the filing of the Motion for Protective Order prior to this
Court’s adjudication of the Motion raises a number of troubling issues,” the Diamond State attorney adds, requesting that this be addressed at a Delaware hearing set for December 17. Those “troubling issues” include whether “by filing the Motion to for Protective Order in the S.D.N.Y. instead of this Court, Ms. Geiss is attempting to make an end run around this Court’s ruling on the Motion; and (iv) whether the S.D.N.Y. has jurisdiction to issue a ruling affecting the property of the Debtors’ estates.”
The plaintiffs in the class action are represented by the offices of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and The Armenta Law Firm, who have not responded to Deadline’s request for comment on this matter.
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 probe by the Manhattan D.A.’s office and the NYPD. 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.