Harvey Weinstein Acquitted on Most Serious Counts

Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of one count of a first degree criminal sex act against Miriam "Mimi" Haley and one count of third degree rape as to Jessica Mann. He was found not guilty of the more serious predator sexual assault charges for which he could have received a life sentence. The reason for the acquittal on the top two charges: The jury did not believe Annabelle Sciorra's 30 year old account of what Weinstein did to her.

The first degree criminal sexual act charge carries a penalty of 5 to 25 years in prison. The third degree rape charge is punishable by anywhere from probation to up to 4 years.

In order to convict him on the more serious sexual predator charges, the jury would have had to have believed Annabelle Sciorra that he raped her 30 years ago and with respect to Jessica Mann, that he had committed the more serious first degree rape charge against her. That they acquitted him on all three of those charges is a testament to the work by his defense team.


They found he performed an oral sex act on the first victim without her consent in 2006 and that he forced himself on Jessica Mann in 2013 in her hotel room.

The defense team had an impossible task given the media hype. Kudos to them on getting three not guilty verdicts, including on the most serious charges. They spared Harvey Weinstein a likely life sentence.

Weinstein was taken into custoday after the verdict to await sentencing. He also faces sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.

Court TV, which is back again (free streaming channel) has been having actors read the live trial testimony every day. I listened to the cross examinations of some of the complaining witnesses. I thought the Mann charges were the weakest. I also thought the prosecution had a problem when one of the defense witnesses, a friend of one Lauren Young, another women who testified against Harvey, denied her friend's account.

I think Weinstein has some good grounds for appeal: I think showing his deformed genitals to the jury was wrong, given that Harvey admitted having sexual relationships with both Haley and Mann and identity wasn't an issue. His defense was that they consented. The emails strongly supported his defense. I also think it was wrong to allow 4 women to testify to similar acts, even though he wasn't charged with assaulting them, including Sciorra with her 30 year old accusation. Statutes of limitations are there for a reason.

So yes, Weinstein will get at least a five year sentence on the first count and anywhere between probation and four years on the second count, but this is muich bigger blow to the prosecution -- even more so than it was on Friday when it looked like there would be a hung jury on the predator charges. The jury today rejected their case on the three most serious charges and convicted on the lesser charges as to both accusers. It also did not find credible the account of a woman who came forward 30 years after the alleged incident. So the verdict does nothing to support the need for laws eliminating the statute of limitations on sexual assault charges.

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  • Display: Sort:
    This verdict has all the hallmarks (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 24, 2020 at 09:43:54 PM EST
    of a compromise, particularly given the jury's reported deadlock as of last Friday. Guilty on a few (seemingly) lesser charges; not guilty on the top counts. That is not to suggest that a compromise verdict is invalid or vulnerable to appeal. To the contrary, if a rational jury could have found the evidence at trial to support the guilty verdicts, they will stand (unless overturned for a procedural, fair-trial reason, such as those that Jeralyn identifies).

    When a good defense lawyer is a woman (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 25, 2020 at 02:25:25 PM EST
    it becomes necessary to defend her and the profession from a unique level of attacks.

    Optimally, our system of justice ... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Feb 25, 2020 at 05:11:26 PM EST
    ... requires a defendant to be vigorously represented by competent legal counsel. I'm unclear as to why some people seem to think that given the very nature of the charges against Harvey Weinstein, his defense attorney should somehow be less vigorous and determined in her defense of him because of some natural affinity she should have for his (alleged) victims by virtue of their shared gender.

    The pursuit of justice and the search for the truth itself requires that a significant element of tension should exist between prosecution / plaintiff and the defense. Personally, I believe that justice is often ill-served whenever the lines go slack and both sides instead pursue a mutually desired outcome due to some shared interest, e.g., the defendant is a mutual friend and both sides want what's best for him or her regardless of the alleged offense.

    That's why Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro received a target letter in 2019 from the U.S. Attorney, for his alleged interference in his own office's initial efforts to investigate allegations of personal corruption by his old friend, now-former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha. (This was the case, Peter, which ultimately involved your own old friend Alexander Silvert. He defended Gerard Puana, the man who was framed by Louis and Katherine Kealoha for mailbox theft, and he alerted the FBI when he stumbled onto the Kealohas' scheme during discovery.)

    It was also for that very reason why I was appalled at Attorney General Bill Barr's ham-handed attempt to assist the efforts of Roger Stone's defense counsel, by undercutting the sentence recommendations of his own Justice Dept.'s prosecutors.

    Likewise, I'd have been similarly taken aback by any backroom effort by Weinstein's counsel Robin Melone to work with New York prosecutors to ensure that her client is somehow penalized for his sins, due to her own empathy for his (alleged) victims.

    Maybe it's the times we live in, but I've always been concerned when people become so vicariously invested in certain criminal or civil cases that they'd support and applaud a subversion of the due process of law in order to achieve a desired outcome, and would further attack attorneys on one side or the other should things somehow not go their way.

    Speaking for myself only, I'm content to let the process play out on a case by case basis, and while I may occasionally disagree with a given outcome, I will generally defer to the court's finding or a jury's decision because I respect the system. After all, it's the only system we have. The other way lies vigilantism.

    Defense counsel Robin Melone did her job and she did it well, just as the oath she swore as an officer of the court requires her to do. And for that, she should be applauded and not condemned.



    who is (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 29, 2020 at 02:42:55 AM EST
    Robin Malone? Harvey Weinstein's lead lawyer was Donna Rotunno of Chicago. His other lawyers were two males, one from Chicago and Arthur Aidala from Brooklyn/NYC.

    Was Sciorra's account admissible under Federal (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 24, 2020 at 09:56:15 PM EST
    Rule 404?  

    The trial was in a New York State court (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 24, 2020 at 10:34:04 PM EST
    not federal court. The Federal Rules of Evidence didn't apply. IIRC, New York has only case law, not a code of evidence. If you're asking whether that evidence would be admissible if the case had been heard in federal court, the answer is apparently yes, because Evidence Rule 413 supersedes Rule 404(b) in sexual assault cases.

    Thanks. (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 24, 2020 at 11:17:34 PM EST
    And to be even more clear (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 25, 2020 at 10:32:40 AM EST
    those rules (FRE 404(b) or 413) apply to admission or exclusion of evidence of "other wrongs" (conduct that is similar to the charged offense conduct, but is not the offense charged) and do not apply to evidence that directly proves an element of a charged offense, as was the case with the Sciorra evidence in the Weinstein trial.

    Presentation of (none / 0) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Tue Feb 25, 2020 at 02:28:23 PM EST
    Weinstein's physical deformities seemed to be a critical component of the state's case. The grotesqueries---deformed, abnormal, scarred, bad skin, smelly, intersex,... as presented, made Quasimodo look like Brad Pitt.  But, the picture painted of Weinstein as monster seemed intended to create doubt.  Women so beautiful could never have chosen to be intimate with this beast, Weinstein. Surely, not consensual.

    But, the offering of that idea proved to be a two-edged sword, raising doubt for charges of predatory sexual assault.  Shaming of Weinstein probably caused shaming of the accusers. One accuser, Jessica Mann, when seeing Weinstein unclothed, said, "Honestly, I felt compassion for him."  A fan, she admitted of "Beauty and the Beast."  

    While the case did not need body photos for identification purposes, presentation of graphic photos to the jury did seem relevant to a common sense understanding and determination of the case--a complicated one.  Not as clear as, say, an attack by a stranger in a dark alley. The jury, in my view, judiciously discerned the facts and circumstances for a right verdict.