Hoo-Boy, It's Time To Check In On The Harvey Weinstein Trial
The Harvey Weinstein rape trial started this week in a Manhattan court room where he is being charged with two counts of rape, two counts of predatory sexual assault, and one count of criminal sex act. While opening statements won't start until January 22, this week brought us the beginning of jury selection, along with a whole bunch of drama surrounding it.
Because I've already planned on going to Lush this evening and buying some products with which to take a very long and hot bath, here is a round-up of everything that's gone on this week with all of that!
Let's Start Out With Some Good, OK?
This morning, dozens of women assembled outside the courthouse in a flash mob to protest Weinstein, chanting "It's not my fault — not where I was, not how I dress."
The action itself, as well as the chants recited by the protestors, was inspired by the Chilean feminist collective LASTESIS, who have organized several "interventions," as they call them, on sexual violence.
Organized by a local feminist collective, the performance was titled "Un violador en tu camino" ("A rapist in your way"). The song and accompanying dance takes on the patriarchy as the cause both of violence against women and the victim shaming that often comes after. "Y la culpa no era mía, ni dónde estaba, ni cómo vestía," they sang ("and the fault wasn't mine, not where I was, not how I dressed").
The use of that particular chant is quite poignant in the face of the defense that Donna Rotunno, Weinstein's attorney, plans to mount: arguing that the women accusing him of assault were alone with him willingly. Rotunno has also publicly said that she opposes #MeToo because she believes victims need to "take responsibility" for bringing about their assaults by doing things like going to someone's hotel room.
He's Certainly Trying It
On Wednesday, Weinstein's legal team attempted to get the judge in the case, Justice James Burke, to recuse himself. Why? They claimed he was "biased" against Weinstein, because he told him to put his phone away. Just like he told everyone else to put their phones away. The difference was, everyone else actually did put their phones away and Weinstein had to be asked to do so three more times.
Via Page Six:
"Mr. Weinstein, I could not implore you more to not answer the following question: Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order?" the judge had barked.
Burke clarified his comment in the oral decision.
"I certainly never actually meant I was going to put your client in jail for life," he said in an exasperated tone. "All I meant to do was to scare him enough for him to discontinue using his phone."
As this is completely ridiculous, Justice Burke will not be recusing himself.
On Friday, Weinstein's legal team filed another motion to have jury selection done in secret. Though it was initially flat out denied by Justice Burke, the judge said he'd read it over the weekend and then most likely deny the request more officially on Monday. What with doing that being against the law and all.
"Does it involve the public and the press not being able to be involved in the process of jury selection?" the judge asked with skepticism. "If there is something [a juror] needs to talk about privately, in that case, we may well do so. … What are you asking for? This is a really, really long letter, if that's what you're asking for."
"I'm asking for more than that judge," [attorney Arthur] Aidala replied. "Can the court just read it?"
"That's against the law!" Burke exclaimed, in response to the request for individual jury selection. Holding the paperwork, he then added, "I'll read this, but I'm generally familiar with this area of the law."
I might love this guy — especially because he also called shenanigans on one of Aidala's more absurd arguments in favor of a sequestered jury selection:
Aidala went on to argue that prospective jurors' responses could prejudice other prospective jurors' opinions.
"We just don't want people blurting out their opinion on this particular case, this particular defendant," he said. [...]
"Jurors blurt all matter of things out that are not great and are not desirable for entire jury panels to hear, and that is every jury selection," said Burke. "It does not affect their [opinion …] that is just a truism of our system of justice."
I like a man who knows bullshit when he sees it.
So just to recap, they tried to get rid of the judge and failed. They tried to get rid of the press and failed. Pretty much everything they've tried to do this week has failed, which I hope bodes well for the rest of the trial.
The Jury's Still Out On The Jury
Shockingly enough, it has not been very easy to find 18 people (12 jurors and six alternates) in Manhattan who do not already have their minds made up about Weinstein one way or another.
Via The New York Times:
One potential juror said she had a friend who had "an encounter" with the film producer Harvey Weinstein, without giving details.
Two others said they had read Ronan Farrow's book, "Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators," which detailed the challenges he faced in reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Weinstein.
Another woman said she could not be fair because she had been sexually assaulted. A fifth said they had a connection to one of Mr. Weinstein's ex-wives and asked to be excused.
So far, 93 of 240 prospective jurors have been dismissed, and the remaining jurors have been sent home with a questionnaire to fill out over the weekend.
And Guest Starring...
The names of several potential witnesses and/or people who would be named in the testimony of other witnesses were released to the public on Tuesday night — a list which included actresses Charlize Theron, Rosie Perez, and Salma Hayek, as well as "several of Mr. Weinstein's business partners and employees, among them his brother, Robert Weinstein."
That's about it for now, but don't worry, I will be stocking up at Lush and keeping track of this all next week too. And the week after that. And the week after that.
Let's all hope there's a sale!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse