Judge approves new Harvey Weinstein legal team led by #MeToo critic

Lawrence Kim
July 13, 2019

Harvey Weinstein has responded to his former lawyer's comment that leaving the disgraced movie mogul's sexual assault case was like winning the lottery.

"Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behavior that makes this representation unreasonably hard to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements", Baez wrote.

"If we look at #MeToo only in the context of Harvey Weinstein, I find it to be extremely unsafe", she added.

A lawyer for one of the accusers in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault case is taking aim at his new counsel's remarks about the #MeToo movement. Weinstein replied, "Yes" and the court gave the green light.

In January, Weinstein's original lawyer left his team, leading to a delay in the trial to May 2019, which was then delayed again to a new start date of September 9.

The judge asked Weinstein on Thursday if that was OK with him.

In her own post-hearing press conference, Gloria Allred, who represents two of Weinstein's accusers in their civil cases, scoffed at Rotunno using her gender as a leg up.

One lawyer had already bolted amid public backlash.

Rotunno says she chose to represent Weinstein and believes the evidence is "very favorable" toward him. The Daily Beast claimed Weinstein first got rid of Ben Brafman a few months back and replaced him with Ronald Sullivan as well as Jose Baez.

They, in turn, had replaced NY defense lawyer Ben Brafman, who quit the case in January.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein exits New York State Supreme Court after a hearing in his rape case in New York, U.S., July 11, 2019.

After approving Baez's request to withdraw from the case, Burke called him to the bench for a one-on-one chat that lasted about five minutes with no court reporter to transcribe the conversation.

According to USA media reports, the founder of the Miramax studios and The Weinstein Company has reviewed his defence strategy several times and thought that having a woman heading his team would make a more favourable impression on the jury in a sexual assault case.

Thursday's hearing was a procedural one, with the bulk of it consisting of bench conferences during which Burke and attorneys from both sides discussed issues such as jury selection, the next major phase of the pre-trial period.

Weinstein is accused of forcibly performing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping a longtime lover in a Manhattan hotel in 2013. In a letter last month to the judge, Baez said Harvey and his relationship had soured and they didn't want to work together anymore.

With one lawyer bolting amid public backlash and another saying he and his client just couldn't get along, a judge on Thursday approved a request to recast Harvey Weinstein's defense team yet again, this time a mere 60 days before the disgraced movie mogul is due to stand trial in NY on sexual assault charges. The two lawyers reportedly made a decision to part ways with Weinstein after facing pressure from the public and not getting along with their client.

Lawyer Jose Baez is going to court Thursday to get a judge's permission to leave the case.

Weinstein's new lawyers join Arthur Aidala, a New York City lawyer whose clients have included rapper 50 Cent, former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and the late Fox News chief, Roger Ailes.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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