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(NEW YORK) — A five-judge panel of a New York appellate court seemed skeptical of one argument and open to another Wednesday as an attorney for Harvey Weinstein argued his sexual assault conviction should be thrown out.
Weinstein argued the outcome of his trial was tainted by the judge’s decision to include a woman who was writing a book about sexual harassment on the jury.
“She misled the court, she obfuscated, which is a nice way of saying she lied to the court, and she had an economic reason for wanting to get on this case,” Weinstein’s attorney, Barry Kamins, said during oral argument before the New York State Appellate Division, First Department.
“Isn’t a judge allowed to say, ‘Well I believe the witness?'” one of the judges asked.
Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 and later sentenced to more than two decades in prison. He faces trial on similar charges in Los Angeles.
The appellate panel seemed more responsive to Weinstein’s second claim, that the judge’s allowance of testimony of women whose sexual allegations were not part of the criminal charges unfairly influenced the jury.
“The jury was overwhelmed by such prejudicial, bad evidence,” Kamins said.
Several of the judges questioned the Manhattan District Attorney’s office about the necessity of using the testimony of the women to support their argument that Weinstein was a serial sexual predator.
“You already have three women who give you three different types of stories of the horrors they experienced with him,” one of the judges said. “So to pile on with three uncharged complainants, three uncharged victims, is leaning really close to that propensity line.”
Assistant District Attorney Valerie Figueredo argued the mixed verdict proved the jury was not unduly swayed.
“Everything about the jury’s careful verdict demonstrates that they followed the court’s limiting instruction and reached a fair and appropriate verdict,” Figueredo said.
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