Appellate judges raise doubts about Weinstein’s conviction

Dec 15, 2021, 3:13 AM | Updated: 6:51 pm
FILE - Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for jury deliberations in his rape trial ...

FILE - Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for jury deliberations in his rape trial on Feb. 24, 2020, in New York. A New York appeals court blasted Manhattan prosecutors Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, for filling out Weinstein’s rape trial last year with what one judge deemed “incredibly prejudicial testimony” from women whose allegations weren’t part of the criminal charges against him — a strategy that now has the potential to jeopardize the disgraced movie mogul’s conviction. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York appeals court blasted Manhattan prosecutors Wednesday for filling out Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial last year with what one judge deemed “incredibly prejudicial testimony” from women whose allegations weren’t part of the criminal charges against him — a strategy that now has the potential to jeopardize the disgraced movie mogul’s conviction.

Members of a five-judge panel in the state’s intermediate appeals court appeared incensed with Judge James Burke’s decision to allow the witnesses and for another ruling that cleared the way for prosecutors to confront Weinstein with evidence about other misbehavior if he had testified.

Several judges on the panel appeared open to considering reversing Weinstein’s conviction and ordering a new trial. A decision isn’t expected until January.

Judge Sallie Manzanet-Daniels was particularly vocal, saying that prosecutors had piled on with “incredibly prejudicial” testimony from additional witnesses and that socking away details about Weinstein’s behavior — in some cases boorish but not sexual — amounted to overkill.

“Let’s inflame the jury’s heart by telling them that he beat up his brother during a meeting. I just I don’t see how there is a balance there on that,” Manzanet-Daniels said, challenging a lawyer from the Manhattan district attorney’s office who implored the judges to uphold Weinstein’s conviction.

Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 of a criminal sex act for forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013. He was acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault stemming from actor Annabella Sciorra’s allegations of a mid-1990s rape.

The verdict was a landmark in the #MeToo movement that was spawned by women coming forward with allegations against Weinstein. He maintains his innocence and contends that any sexual activity was consensual.

Burke, the Manhattan judge who presided over Weinstein’s trial, allowed prosecutors to bolster their case with testimony from three women who alleged Weinstein also violated them but whose claims did not lead to charges in the New York case.

Rules on calling witnesses to testify about so-called “prior bad acts” vary by state and was an issue in Bill Cosby’s successful appeal of his sexual assault conviction in Pennsylvania. New York’s rules, shaped by a landmark decision in a 1901 poisoning case, are among the more restrictive.

Weinstein’s lawyers argued that extra testimony went beyond what’s normally allowed — detailing motive, opportunity, intent or a common scheme or plan — and essentially put the ex-studio boss on trial for crimes he wasn’t charged with and hadn’t had an opportunity to defend himself against.

Burke’s ruling allowing prosecutors to use horror stories from Weinstein’s past to attack his credibility worked to prevent him from taking the witness stand, Weinstein lawyer Barry Kamins told the appellate panel.

“The jury was overwhelmed by such prejudicial, bad evidence,” Kamins argued. “This was a trial of Harvey Weinstein’s character. The people were making him out to be a bad person.”

Kamins also challenged Burke’s refusal to remove a juror who had written a novel involving predatory older men, as well as his decision to allow prosecutors to have an expert on victim behavior and rape myths testify while rejecting testimony on similar subjects from defense experts.

Weinstein, sentenced to 23 years in state prison in New York, did not attend Wednesday’s arguments. He was extradited to California earlier this year and is jailed there while awaiting trial on charges he assaulted five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.

___

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arby's - LEHI, UT - OCTOBER 26: Exterior view of an Arby's restaurant on October 26, 2017 in Lehi, ...
Associated Press

Ex-Arby’s manager in Vancouver, Wash. sentenced after urinating in milkshake mix

A former manager at an Arby’s restaurant admitted to possessing child pornography and urinated into a milkshake mix
19 hours ago
FILE - Coolio performs during the "I Love The 90's" tour on Aug. 7, 2022, at RiverEdge Park in Auro...
Associated Press

‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop’s biggest names of the 1990s with hits including “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at age 59, his manager said. Coolio, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., died at the Los Angeles home of a friend, longtime manager Jarez Posey told […]
19 hours ago
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris waves next to Lt. Gen. Ricky N. Rupp, commander of the U.S. Air F...
Associated Press

VP Harris to visit DMZ after North Korean missile tests

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is capping her four-day trip to Asia with a stop at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean Peninsula as she tries to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the security of its Asian allies. The visit on Thursday comes on the heels of North […]
19 hours ago
Curious sightseers walk in the receding waters of Tampa Bay due to the low tide and tremendous wind...
Associated Press

Water drains from Tampa Bay from Ian’s winds, then refills

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Water driven back by powerful winds drained from Tampa Bay as Hurricane Ian approached Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and some dared to venture out on the exposed bay floor. Ian eventually made landfall as a major hurricane near Fort Myers, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the south. A number […]
19 hours ago
Registrar Kristen Schmidt takes stock of the painting "Seated Man" by Elaine de Kooning, wife of Wi...
Associated Press

Arizona museum exhibit marks end to de Kooning painting saga

PHOENIX (AP) — After a Willem de Kooning painting worth millions was brazenly stolen in 1985 from an Arizona museum, the staff clung to the hope that it would turn up one day. But nobody could have predicted “Woman-Ochre” would find its way back through the kindness of strangers in a neighboring state. “I would […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Former governor Cuomo forming PAC, hosting weekly podcast

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking his biggest steps yet to return to public life, more than a year after resigning in the wake of a bevy of sexual harassment allegations. In a video posted online Wednesday, the Democrat said he’s forming a political action committee and a gun […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Appellate judges raise doubts about Weinstein’s conviction