UPDATED, 1:21 PM: Jury selection has ended for the day with another two jurors being selected.
With opening statements penciled in to start on January 22, that brings the total jurors now up to seven. There are four men and three women picked out of the literally thousands called to serve. The Manhattan D.A.’s office noted in court that none of those chosen jurors are white women, which Assistant D.A. Joan Illuzzi-Orbon says is the tactic of the defense. A claim that didn’t go over well with Weinstein’s chief lawyer Donna Rotunno and the rest of the disgraced producer’s team in what has become trench warfare in the courtroom.
PREVIOUSLY, 10:52 AM: Gigi Hadid won’t be serving on the jury for Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial, but two women and three men will. It also looks like the remaining required seven jurors will be picked in the next few days, despite the defense’s best and most recent efforts to stymie the process.
Less than a week before opening arguments are set to start in the case that could see the much-accused producer behind bars for life if found guilty, just under half of the jury has now been picked for the high-profile case. This comes as defense attorneys failed to get an appeals court to halt the process in their latest Hail Mary to have the matter moved out of the so-called “media frenzy” of NYC.
Having proved distinctly unsuccessful in past efforts to have the venue shifted to the likes of Suffolk County or elsewhere in upstate New York, the defense introduced their most recent motion yesterday and were heard this morning by an appellate court. Cutting it very close to opening arguments from Assistant District Attorney next week, a ruling on the appeal isn’t expected until January 21.
As that sidebar drama plays out, the 15th floor courtroom of Judge James Burke in lower Manhattan’s Criminal Court Building is still going through candidates and questionnaires. This of course follows almost two weeks of contentious jury selection, defense delay tactics, hundreds of potential jurors and dozens of dismissals, many from people telling the court bluntly that they can’t be impartial on the case.
“You must decide this case on the evidence,” the New York Supreme Court Justice told the batch of 140 prospective jurors today, as he has every day since the process of finding 12 impartial citizens of the Big Apple started on January 7. Earlier Thursday, supermodel Hadid was formally released from jury duty by the judge.
Opening arguments in the trial are scheduled for January 22, with the case expected to go deep into March – if there are no hiccups or the Donna Rotunno-led defense doesn’t succeed in its repeated attempts at changing venues, getting rid of the judge or hitting the pause button on the highly covered matter.
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 producer is now out on a $5 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 last year when a new indictment was added.
Accused by Ashley Judd in a now temporarily halted case, failing to get a sex-trafficking class action tossed out, and a more recent lawsuit from a woman who says he abused her when she was 16 in 2002, Weinstein is also facing allegations from close to 100 other women that he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. At present, several of the women are still reluctantly participating in the potential $25 million settlement that is part of an overall $45 million deal on the table.
In addition to the multiple sexual assault charges announced on January 6 in Los Angeles and the NYC rape trial itself, Weinstein is also currently under investigation by federal prosecutors as well as other probes by the Manhattan D.A.’s office, the NYPD, the LAPD and others globally.