Prosecutors accuse Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer of violating conduct rules

25 May 2024, 19:54

Sexual Misconduct Harvey Weinstein
Sexual Misconduct Harvey Weinstein. Picture: PA

They claim he made public statements intended to intimidate a potential witness.

Prosecutors in New York have accused Harvey Weinstein’s lead defence lawyer of making public statements intended to intimidate a potential witness ahead of the fallen movie mogul’s retrial and asked a judge to take action.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office sent a letter to the trial judge criticising comments made by lawyer Arthur Aidala outside of court on May 1, urging the judge to instruct the defence team “not to make public statements discussing or disparaging potential witnesses in the future”.

New York’s highest court last month threw out Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction, ruling that the trial judge unfairly allowed evidence against him based on allegations that were not part of the case.

In that landmark #MeToo trial, Weinstein was convicted of rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013 and of forcing himself on a TV and film production assistant, Miriam Haley, in 2006.

Weinstein, 72, has maintained his innocence.

Sexual Misconduct Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein appears at Manhattan criminal court for a preliminary hearing (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP)

Speaking to reporters about the case after Weinstein’s first court appearance following the decision, Mr Aidala said he believes Ms Haley lied to the jury about her motive in coming forward, which prosecutors rebut.

He said his team planned an aggressive cross-examination on the issue “if she dares to come and show her face here”.

Ms Haley, who did not attend the court hearing, had said days earlier she was considering whether to give evidence again at a retrial.

Mr Aidala declined to comment on Friday.

Assistant district attorney Nicole Blumberg, in the letter to Justice Curtis Farber, said the defence lawyer violated state rules of professional conduct and “knowingly disregarded his professional and ethical obligations”.

“The obvious intent of his statements was to intimidate Ms Haley and chill her co-operation with the retrial of this case,” Ms Blumberg wrote.

Ms Blumberg asked Mr Farber to remind the defence counsel of their ethical obligations regarding out-of-court statements and direct them to stop making public statements about witnesses “that could materially prejudice the case”.

Weinstein’s next court date is Wednesday. At the May 1 hearing, prosecutors asked for a retrial as soon as September. Mr Farber said the trial would take place some time after Labour Day.

Weinstein, who had been serving a 23-year sentence for the Manhattan conviction, was moved from a state prison to city custody after the ruling last month by the state Court of Appeals.

He also was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape and is still sentenced to 16 years in prison in California.

Ms Haley said last month at a news conference with her lawyer, Gloria Allred, that she did not want to go the trauma of testifying again, “but for the sake of keeping going and doing the right thing and because it is what happened, I would consider it”.

Ms Allred declined comment.

Weinstein’s publicist, Juda Engelmayer, claimed prosecutors have engaged in the same type of out-of-court statements they are complaining about.

“Mr Weinstein has been dragged through an unfair and unconstitutional trial,” he wrote in an email. “And he and his lawyers will continue to speak out in favour of his innocence.”

The Associated Press does not generally identify people alleging sexual assault unless they consent to be named, as Ms Haley has.

By Press Association

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