When Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial starts on January 6 next year, the proceedings that could see the disgraced producer behind bars for the rest of his life will be occurring in Lower Manhattan, a New York court ruled today.
“It is ordered that the motion is denied in its entirety,” said a order entered Thursday in the First Department Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. The order effectively shuts down the attempt by Weinstein and his lawyers to move the venue or halt the matter.
“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate, and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” read an August 16 Hail Mary filing by Weinstein’s attorney Arthur Aidala to shift the trial location or even be granted a stay.
Tossing around terms like “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding hearings and a trial in media-centric Manhattan, Aidala suggested Long Island’s Suffolk County or upstate jurisdictions as possible new venues – which clearly didn’t fly.
Weinstein representatives said that they had no comment on today’s order.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said that it also had no comment on the order except to refer to its August 23 brief chastising the move, literally and figuratively, by Weinstein’s defense team.
“Defendant has failed to meet his burden of showing this Court that there is ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that he cannot receive ‘a fair and impartial trial’ in New York County,” NYC Assistant D.A. Harriett Galvin wrote at the time. “Defendant’s motion is replete with hyperbole and speculation about the impact that pretrial publicity has had on potential jurors; he has not shown that jurors in Suffolk or Albany County will be any less impacted or influenced by media coverage about the case; and he has contributed to that coverage by the actions of his legal representatives,” he added.
First arrested in late May 2018, Weinstein is facing multiple counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape.
Subject to travel restrictions reinforced last August 7, the 67-year-old Oscar-winning producer is out on $1 million bail after first entering a not guilty plea on July 9 last year. Weinstein entered a plea of not guilty again on August 26 this year when a new indictment was added. By the time Weinstein’s trial for rape actually starts it will be more than two years since The New York Times exposé of October 2017 was published and put the producer’s alleged decades-long vile behavior in the spotlight that he had bullied and paid off to avoid.
With The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra now likely to testify in the trial, the start of the estimated five-week long process was pushed in late August from an early September start to early 2020.
Accused by Ashley Judd in a now temporarily halted case and failing to get a sex trafficking class action tossed out, Weinstein is also facing allegations from more than 60 women that he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. In that vein, Weinstein is under investigation by federal prosecutors as well as probes by the Manhattan D.A.’s office, the NYPD, the LAPD and more globally.