On Monday, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers submitted an appeal of their client’s conviction, stating various reasons as to why they believe Weinstein was not given a fair trial and is entitled to a new one.
At 166 pages, the legal document lays out the lawyers’ arguments, stating that the trial court that put Weinstein in jail was too “cavalier.”
They also point to one of the jurors in the trial that they argue should have been removed. The juror — Juror no. 11 — had previously written a fictional book that included predatory older men. The lawyers argued, “Juror No. 11 was unqualified to sit as a juror, notwithstanding any promise by her to be fair. In addition, based on the imminent publication of her book, she had a pecuniary motive to convict the defendant.”
Weinstein’s lawyers also discussed the judge’s decision to permit testimony from women whose accusations did not result in charges in the New York case, as reported by The Associated Press.
“Weinstein’s trial was overwhelmed by excessive, random, and highly dubious prior bad act evidence, none of which shed light on disputed issues relevant to the charged offenses,” Weinstein’s lawyers wrote.
They continued, “Because the evidence on the charged offenses was weak, the prosecution inundated the jury with copious tales of alleged misconduct (much of which was not criminal in nature) that served no legitimate evidentiary purpose but merely depicted Weinstein as loathsome.”
The lawyers wrote in the brief that Weinstein’s “sentence was unduly harsh and excessive” and “the verdicts of guilt were against the weight of the evidence and, as to the third degree rape, was insufficient as a matter of law,” among other arguments.
Weinstein was convicted of a criminal sex act and rape in the third degree in February of last year, but was acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault — charges that stemmed from accusations made about incidents in the mid-1990s. Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in jail.
According to NPR reporting in March of last year, Weinstein was sentenced to prison for 20 years because of the criminal sex act, with three additional years for the rape conviction. At the time, Weinstein’s lawyers were unhappy with the result of the trial, especially as the movie producer was acquitted of other charges.
NPR reported at the time:
Weinstein’s legal team cited this mixed verdict in a letter to the court, arguing that anything above the mandatory minimum of five years “is likely to constitute a de facto life sentence.” And after the 23-year sentence was handed down Wednesday, his lawyers labeled it “obscene.”
“That number spoke to the pressure of movements and the public. That number did not speak to the evidence that came out of trial. That number did not speak to the testimony that we heard,” defense attorney Donna Rotunno told reporters outside the courthouse afterward, adding: “I think the judge caved, just as I believe the jury caved.”
Weinstein faces additional charges in California for “assaulting five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013,” the AP reported. However, his extradition has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mr. Weinstein had a right to a fair trial by an impartial jury,” lawyers Barry Kamins, John Leventhal and Diana Fabi-Samson wrote in the document.
“The trial court should have exercised the utmost vigilance in protecting this most important right of the defendant,” they wrote.
Weinstein claims that he is not guilty and that all sexual activity performed was consensual.
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