Monday, May 27, 2024

Shocker: Harvey Weinstein NY Conviction Overturned by Panel of Female Judges


Harvey Weinstein’s conviction has been overturned by a panel of appellate judges, mostly female.

Judge Jenny Rivera wrote the 4-3 majority opinion, joined by Chief Judge Rowan Wilson and Appellate Division Justices Betsy Barros and Christine Clark, who stepped in for recused Judges Caitlin Halligan and Shirley Troutman.

Judges Michael Garcia, Madeline Singas and Anthony Cannataro dissented, with the latter two jurists writing separately.

They’ve ruled the NY court made a mistake allowing women who were not part of the trial to testify against Weinstein.

Rivera wrote that Weinstein had a right to only answer for the crimes charged.

“The synergistic effect of these errors was not harmless,” Rivera wrote, while noting Weinstein’s absence of a prior criminal history. “The only evidence against defendant was the complainants’ testimony, and the result of the court’s rulings, on the one hand, was to bolster their credibility and diminish defendant’s character before the jury. On the other hand, the threat of a cross-examination highlighting these untested allegations undermined defendant’s right to testify. The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial.”

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said on Thursday that the office vows to “do everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault.”

The news broke just after 9am. It’s unclear if Weinstein even knows yet. I’m told his attorney, Arthur Aidala, will have a press conference today at 1:30pm after he goes through all the information.

From the Associated Press:

“We conclude that the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes,” the court’s 4-3 decision said. “The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial.”

The court’s majority said “it is an abuse of judicial discretion to permit untested allegations of nothing more than bad behavior that destroys a defendant’s character but sheds no light on their credibility as related to the criminal charges lodged against them.”

In a stinging dissent, Judge Madeline Singas wrote that the majority was “whitewashing the facts to conform to a he-said/she-said narrative,” and said the Court of Appeals was continuing a “disturbing trend of overturning juries’ guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence.”

“The majority’s determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability,” Singas wrote.

Weinstein still has a 16 year sentence in Los Angeles from a separate trial. But the overturning of the 23 year sentence in New York is a major victory and a vindication, of sorts. His accusers are already voicing their unhappiness, but they can blame the judge and prosecutors in the case for rushing to make mistakes.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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