A New York appeals court has upheld Harvey Weinstein’s conviction on rape and sexual assault charges, rejecting arguments that the trial judge effectively rigged the outcome in favor of the prosecution.
In a unanimous ruling issued on Thursday, a five-judge appellate panel found that the judge did not make errors that would warrant overturning the conviction or the 23-year sentence.
“We reject defendant’s arguments, and affirm the conviction in all respects,” wrote Justice Angela Mazzarelli, on behalf of the court.
A spokesman for Weinstein, Juda Engelmayer, said that, “We are disappointed, but not surprised.”
“We are reviewing all of our options and will seek to petition the Court of Appeals and beyond,” Engelmayer said.
Weinstein was convicted in February 2020. He is currently housed at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, where he awaits trial on 11 additional sex crimes charges.
His attorneys had argued that Justice James Burke, the trial judge, had made several errors that made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial. They argued that the prosecutors should not have been allowed to call three “prior bad acts” witnesses to testify about uncharged conduct.
And they argued that Weinstein was effectively blocked from testifying in his own defense, because prosecutors had been given permission to bring up 28 other incidents — including bullying and physical violence — to impeach his testimony.
The appeals court rejected both arguments in its 45-page ruling, finding that Burke had acted within his discretion in allowing both types of evidence.
“While we acknowledge the sheer size of the impeachment material that the court allowed, we have analyzed that decision within the larger context of all of the circumstances presented by this case, and have concluded that the court providently exercised its discretion,” Mazzarelli wrote.
At an appellate hearing in December, two justices suggested that Burke’s rulings lacked “balance,” and Justice Sallie Manzanet-Daniels indicated she believed that Weinstein had faced “overkill.”
Weinstein’s attorney also took issue with Burke’s decision not to remove Juror 11, a writer who had a forthcoming novel that dealt with predatory older men. The defense argued that the juror lied about the contents of the book during jury selection, and they were enraged when she was allowed to remain on the panel.
Weinstein, 69, will not be eligible for parole until after his 87th birthday. His attorneys have said that he is in ill health, and needs extensive treatment to keep from going blind. During his New York trial, Weinstein used a walker to get to court. In Los Angeles, bailiffs bring him to his appearances in a wheelchair.
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