Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 Conviction Overturned By A New York Court

  • A New York jury convicted Harvey Weinstein in 2020 of sexual assault.
  • The former film producer was also convicted in California in a separate case. 
  • Weinstein’s New York verdict has been overturned.
  • The justice in the case is accused of making critical mistakes.

(NewsReady.com) – Harvey Weinstein was one of the most well-known and respected producers in Hollywood. He and his brother, Bob Weinstein, founded the company Miramax and produced films like “Shakespeare in Love,” “Pulp Fiction,” and others. He’s been credited with launching the careers of many, many stars. He’s also faced allegations that he destroyed the careers of others.

The producer’s world collapsed around him when a bombshell article was published in The New York Times that accused him of sexually assaulting female stars for decades. The allegations turned into rape charges, kicked off the #MeToo Movement, and landed the producer in prison. Now, one of those convictions has been overturned.

Not Fair

On April 25, the New York Court of Appeals ruled Weinstein did not receive a fair trial in Manhattan in 2020. He was convicted of felony sex charges in the case. However, the appeals court agreed with the former producer’s defense team that Justice James Burke made a critical mistake when he allowed the prosecution to call several women to the stand and allowed them to testify that Weinstein assaulted them.

The women were “Molineux witnesses,” a reference to the Molineux Rule. They are witnesses who were allowed to testify at a trial about criminal acts that the defendant had not been charged with committing. Generally, these types of witnesses are not allowed because they are prejudicial. However, prosecutors are sometimes allowed to bring in prior uncharged allegations to “establish motive, opportunity, intent, common scheme or plan, knowledge” or other facts.

The judges also ruled that the case was compromised by another prosecution strategy. The DA’s office had warned Weinstein that if he took the stand in his own defense, they were going to ask him about dozens of other allegations against him. Justice Burke held a Sandoval hearing, a New York pre-trial hearing that examines a defendant’s criminal history and gives the defense an idea of what might be asked if the accused testifies. In that case, the justice said he would allow prosecutors to ask about 28 allegations, including that he threatened to cut a coworker’s genitals off and that he attacked his brother.

Judge Jenny Rivera wrote the majority opinion for the appeals court and said the women should not have testified because they had served to improperly “diminish [the] defendant’s character before the jury.”

What Now?

Even though Weinstein’s conviction was overturned, he won’t be getting out of prison. He was convicted of sex crimes in California as well. He might now be extradited to the Golden State to serve out his 16-year sentence there.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office issued a statement saying they were going to “do everything in [their] power to retry this case” and stay committed to sexual assault survivors.

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