Harvey Weinstein's conviction in New York is overturned and a new trial is ordered

Harvey Weinstein's conviction in New York is overturned and a new trial is ordered

Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault conviction in New York was overturned by the state's highest court, who found that the judge at the disgraced Hollywood movie mogul's trial in 2020 had made fundamental errors.

In a 4-3 decision, the New York Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered a new trial, saying that the judge had wrongly allowed women who were not part of the charges against Weinstein to testify as prosecution witnesses.

The rare reversal marks a surprising turn in the highest-profile conviction of the #MeToo era, and a blow to prosecutors' use of witness testimony that describes conduct that is not part of the underlying case. But it is unclear whether Weinstein, who is serving a 23-year sentence in Rome, New York, will be released. He was sentenced to 16 years in California on similar charges.

His lawyer Barry Kamins said in an interview that Weinstein, 72, will appear before a Manhattan judge. and will request release on bail pending a new trial. His California Lawyers Likely to Request Bail awaiting appeal of his conviction in that state.

“We are pleased that the court agreed that Mr. Weinstein was denied his fundamental right to a fair trial”Kamins said.

Egregious errors

Judge Jenny Rivera, author of the majority opinion of the New York appeals court, considered that the testimony of women who were not part of the accusations unfairly reinforced the allegations of the main accusers in the casereduced Weinstein's credibility and could have prevented him from testifying on his own behalf.

“The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial,” he wrote.

Justice Madeline Singas wrote in a dissent that the majority opinion “ignores the nuances of how sexual violence is perpetrated and perceived, and demonstrates the majority's utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of sexual assault.”

“New York women deserve better”the judge wrote.

It is now up to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to decide how to proceed with the case. “We will do everything in our power to retry this case, and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault.”said a spokesperson for Bragg.

Arthur Aidala, another Weinstein lawyer, said he would hold a press conference later on Thursday.

Weinstein's conviction for rape and sexual assault was confirmed in 2022 by a mid-level state appeals court in a unanimous decision, but New York's highest court agreed that same year to review the case.

Aidala and Kamins argued that at trial, Justice James Burke of the New York State Supreme Court had unfairly allowed the jury to hear testimony about alleged uncharged crimes, violating his client's right to a fair trial.

They argued that the judge “repeatedly abandoned his duty to safeguard Weinstein's constitutional guarantees and procedural rights,” leaving him “powerless to defend himself against an uncontrolled prosecutor.” That inundated the jury with damaging evidence of bad character to distract from the weaknesses of the accusers' testimony, Weinstein's lawyers said.

California prosecutors announced their indictment of Weinstein on rape and other charges on the first day of his trial in New York. After being convicted and sentenced in 2020, He was sent to Los Angeles to be processed there. Weinstein was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 for another rape. He was acquitted of charges related to one of the women who testified in New York.

a dark shadow

The appeals court's decision was met with dismay by advocates for victims of sexual assault.

“Her only goal was to give a voice to dozens of other women who suffered so much,” Lindsay Goldbrum said. Goldbrum has represented six Weinstein accusers, including Tarale Wulff, who testified at her trial in New York. “Sadly, today's sentencing casts a dark shadow over his bravery and will undoubtedly deter future victims of sexual assault from coming forward,” Goldbrum said.

Evgeniya Chernyshova, who publicly identified herself following Weinstein's rape conviction in California, “is obviously disappointed” by the New York sentence, her lawyer David Ring said. Chernyshova, who was “Jane Doe 1” in the Los Angeles case, “feels bad for the victims who endured that trial and subsequent appeals, only to see their convictions overturned,” said. Ring said they are confident the California conviction will stand.

“Overturning Harvey Weinstein's conviction is a horrible decision that does not protect due process: it jeopardizes justice for survivors of his crimes,” said Scott Berkowitz, founder and president of the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN, who urged the Manhattan prosecutor to “immediately commit to retrying him.”

And Julie Roginsky, co-founder of Lift Our Voicesa nonprofit advocacy group aimed at creating more equitable workplaces, called on New York to ban nondisclosure agreements “for toxic issues in the workplace.”