Weinstein jury seated after prosecutors accuse defense of excluding white women




Weinstein jury seated after prosecutors accuse defense of excluding white women


By Gabriella Borter and Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - Lawyers in Harvey Weinstein's New York rape trial finished selecting 12 jurors on Friday to decide the former Hollywood producer's fate, as prosecutors renewed an accusation that the defense had unfairly tried to block white women from serving on the jury.

The jury, comprised of six white men, three black women, one black man and two white women, is set to hear opening arguments next week.

Weinstein, the 67-year-old producer of Hollywood hits such as "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love", has pleaded not guilty to assaulting two women. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Since 2017 more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades. He denies the allegations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.

The accusations against him helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which women have publicly accused powerful men in several industries of sexual abuse.

Lawyers seated two white female jurors on Friday after Weinstein's defense team had exhausted their opportunity to eliminate potential jurors who did not exhibit explicit bias against the defendant or otherwise seem unfit to serve.

Three legal experts said the defense appeared to assume white women would be more likely to sympathize with Weinstein's accusers.

Weinstein is charged with assaulting two women, Mimi Haleyi, who is white, and an anonymous accuser whose race is unknown. At least one other white female accuser, U.S. actress Annabella Sciorra, is expected to testify.

"It looks like their thought process is that a white woman would have more of an affinity to the victims," said Michael Bachner, a defense lawyer who is not involved in the case.

As potential jurors were eliminated on Thursday and Friday, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi accused Weinstein's lawyers of systematically striking "every white female" from the pool.

"They are systematically eliminating a class of people from this jury," Illuzzi said on Friday.

Weinstein's lawyers cited specific reasons for excluding each white woman. One had a father and brother in the FBI, and would be biased because she was "surrounded by law enforcement," said defense lawyer Arthur Aidala. One was a model, like some of Weinstein's 80 accusers. Another had a photo of a women's march posted prominently on her Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) profile, and a "social media influencer" daughter, the defense said.

Justice James Burke allowed the challenges without giving a reason.

"We are here to try to pick a fair jury," Donna Rotunno, Weinstein's lead attorney, said on Thursday. "This is not some conspiracy against the state."

Lawyers can excuse an unlimited number of potential jurors if they show explicit bias for or against Weinstein.

Beyond that, both sides can use "peremptory" challenges to reject jurors they believe will be unsympathetic, without providing a reason. Lawyers typically get three peremptory challenges, but in this case each side was given 20.

Weinstein's lawyers used roughly half of their peremptory challenges to excuse prospective white female jurors who had not otherwise been excused for bias or rejected by prosecutors.

It is illegal to use peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or religion.

Jill Taylor, who works for a trial consulting firm, said the defense's reasons for dismissing the white women appeared to be legitimate.

"To the extent you know someone's an activist or you know that someone is a model, those factors are going to weigh more heavily than just someone's basic demographics in decision-making," Taylor said. "Straight demographics are not generally predictive of how someone is going to hear a case."





Related News

Coronavirus could be knockout blow for Hong Kong's once-thriving tourism, retail sectors
Today, 01:18
By Sarah Wu and Donny Kwok HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tom Bennell's olive oil distribution business took a heavy beating during months of pro-democracy protests that emptied Hong Kong hotels and restaurants, his major customers. Now he fears a
Japan finance minister watching coronavirus impact, to ensure fiscal policy steps
Today, 01:15
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday he would ensure that fiscal policy steps would be taken as needed to respond to the spreading coronavirus outbreak while closely monitoring its impact on the economy. Aso told
Japan Inc wary about wage hikes as 'Abenomics' sputters: Reuters poll
Today, 01:12
By Tetsushi Kajimoto TOKYO (Reuters) - Three-fifths of Japanese firms plan to keep overall compensation flat or even cut it in the coming business year, a Reuters poll found, in a further blow to the government's attempts to boost incomes and
Tokyo commuters bound for Olympic crowd crush as Japan Inc rules out work from home
Today, 01:09
By Chris Gallagher TOKYO (Reuters) - When Emi Tanimura failed to find a daycare slot for her new-born daughter, she had to take a radical step for Japan to avoid a long time away from her job at communications firm Sunny Side Up (T:2180). She
Messi, Hamilton joint winners of Sportsman of the Year at Laureus Awards
Today, 01:06
(Reuters) - Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi were declared joint winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award in Berlin on Monday, with the voting tied for the first time in the awards' 20-year



Latest News
Coronavirus could be knockout blow for Hong Kong's once-thriving tourism, retail sectors
18.02.2020 01:18
By Sarah Wu and Donny Kwok HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tom Bennell's olive oil distribution business took a heavy beating during months of pro-democracy protests that emptied Hong Kong hotels and restaurants, his major customers. Now he fears a knockout blow as the city fights the coronavirus. The two-decade-old Olives and Oils supplies more than
Read more
Japan finance minister watching coronavirus impact, to ensure fiscal policy steps
18.02.2020 01:15
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday he would ensure that fiscal policy steps would be taken as needed to respond to the spreading coronavirus outbreak while closely monitoring its impact on the economy. Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting that economic fundamentals that supported domestic demand were holding
Read more
Japan Inc wary about wage hikes as 'Abenomics' sputters: Reuters poll
18.02.2020 01:12
By Tetsushi Kajimoto TOKYO (Reuters) - Three-fifths of Japanese firms plan to keep overall compensation flat or even cut it in the coming business year, a Reuters poll found, in a further blow to the government's attempts to boost incomes and stronger economic growth. The world's third largest economy shrank at the fastest pace in six
Read more
Tokyo commuters bound for Olympic crowd crush as Japan Inc rules out work from home
18.02.2020 01:09
By Chris Gallagher TOKYO (Reuters) - When Emi Tanimura failed to find a daycare slot for her new-born daughter, she had to take a radical step for Japan to avoid a long time away from her job at communications firm Sunny Side Up (T:2180). She started working from home. Now a mother of two, she still works flexible hours, including time at home, as
Read more
Messi, Hamilton joint winners of Sportsman of the Year at Laureus Awards
18.02.2020 01:06
(Reuters) - Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi were declared joint winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award in Berlin on Monday, with the voting tied for the first time in the awards' 20-year history. Mercedes driver Hamilton won his sixth world championship in 2019, with 11 race wins and 17
Read more