Challenges, distractions stymie Weinstein jury selection

NEW YORK — The already contentious jury selection at the trial of Harvey Weinstein was stymied by more challenges and distractions Friday: denied defence requests to disqualify numerous prospective jurors and a noisy anti-Weinstein protest.

Dozens of women danced in formation and sang on the sidewalk outside the Manhattan courthouse where the disgraced movie mogul is on trial, causing a commotion so loud that that it could be heard in a 15th-floor courtroom.

Though lyrics including, “The rapist is you” weren’t discernible inside, defence attorney Damon Cheronis later complained to the judge, “It’s this type of atmosphere that makes it impossible for Mr. Weinstein to get a fair trial.”

Judge James Burke brushed off a defence motion to exclude any potential juror who heard the commotion.

“You’re probably not aware of this, but people chant and protest outside this courthouse all the time,” he said.

The exchange reflected the difficulties of picking a jury to decide the fate of Weinstein, who’s pleaded not guilty to charges he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulted another woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. If convicted at a trial expected to last into March, the 67-year-old ex-studio boss could face life in prison.

Hundreds of New Yorkers have been summoned for jury duty, with most dismissed when they indicated by a show of hands that they couldn’t keep an open mind about Weinstein.

After a fourth day of initial screening on Friday, the court was expected to keep seeking more candidates next week for a final round of questioning .Both sides hope to have a jury in place for opening statements before the end of this month.

On Thursday, Burke rejected a defence motion demanding he remove himself from the trial after he dressed down Weinstein for repeatedly defying an order to stop texting in the courtroom. The judge a lso tried to calm nerves after hearing someone gasp when he told jury candidates it was their sacred duty to serve.

There were further distractions on Friday when the defence asked the judge to dismiss 32 potential jurors because they might have overheard a woman remarking that she couldn’t be an impartial juror because she has a “close friend who had an encounter with the defendant in his hotel room.”

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Arthur Aidala, suggested having prospective jurors questioned individually and in private so they wouldn’t have to reveal personal information on sensitive topics “in front of the international media.”

“Denied!” Burke barked before the lawyer could finish his argument. He called barring the public and the press from observing the process “inconsistent with having an open, transparent jury selection” and “against the law.”

The case resumes Monday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snow and freezing rain expected in Red Deer

Brace yourself. Environment Canada expects periods of snow, mixed with freezing rain,… Continue reading

Cautious optimism for Red Deer real estate market in 2020

Some Red Deer realtors are cautiously optimistic about the local housing market… Continue reading

Red Deer dental duo returning to Ethiopia to help kids

Dr. Ivan Hucal and Melanie Bott hope to create ‘ripple effect’ of kindness on expedition

Order in: Red Deer residents chose Uber, Skip the Dishes during deep freeze

Red Deer’s public transit service saw decline in usage during January’s cold snap

New snow clearing triggers in effect in Red Deer

Residents encouraged to sign up for alerts

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Take advantage of sales, tax credits to save money on celiac-friendly food

TORONTO — When Robyn McLean heads to the grocery store, she often… Continue reading

Taylor Swift reveals her mother has a brain tumour

NEW YORK — Taylor Swift has revealed in a new interview that… Continue reading

How can you make healthy food resolutions really stick?

For many of us, January is all about giving things up: Maybe… Continue reading

Lineups outside grocery stores in St. John’s as state of emergency hits Day 5

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Residents of St. John’s, N.L., were lining up… Continue reading

Prison watchdog decries ‘Indigenization’ of Canada’s correctional system

OTTAWA — Canada’s prison ombudsman says disturbing and entrenched imbalances mean the… Continue reading

Parks Canada says no to gondola proposed from Banff townsite to Mount Norquay

BANFF, Alta. — Parks Canada has rejected a proposed gondola to take… Continue reading

CFL reaches co-operative partnership agreement with Brazilian federation

TORONTO — Add Brazil to the CFL 2.0 initiative. The league announced… Continue reading

Most Read