Judge Warns Weinstein Ahead of Jury Deliberations

Prosecution accuses lead attorney of jury tampering
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2020 11:42 AM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2020 4:30 PM CST
Weinstein Lawyer Accused of Jury Tampering
Harvey Weinstein talks to reporters as he arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for his rape trial in New York on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Tuesday should've marked a quiet start to jury deliberations in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial. Instead, the drama continued with prosecutors accusing Weinstein's lead attorney Donna Rotunno of jury tampering. Rotunno—previously accused of violating a judge's order about publicly discussing the case—penned an op-ed published Sunday in Newsweek, in which she pressed jurors to "to do what they know is right." Jurors must "[cut] through the noise of a media and public intent on injecting their narratives into the courtroom" and "base their verdict solely on the facts, testimony and evidence presented" in court. "The facts are the facts," Rotunno concluded. "Harvey Weinstein is innocent. His fate hangs in the balance, and the world is watching."

"If this is conduct that is allowed to persist in courtroom, we are all lost," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi told Justice James Burke, claiming the piece was written at Weinstein's directive, reports Variety. Rotunno argued the op-ed was meant to counter "media attacks"—it mentioned "the mocking of Mr. Weinstein's walker" and "the unflattering courtroom-artist sketches of his body"—and said she'd already conveyed the relevant information to jurors in her closing argument, per Deadline. The outlet notes Burke "did not seem to immediately rule on Illuzzi's requests for some sort of sanction." However, he did caution Weinstein "against the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut" and warned lawyers not to speak to the public. Jurors ultimately ended the first day of deliberations with no verdict, the AP reported later in the day, and will resume deliberations Wednesday. (Much more on the case here.)

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