Harvey Weinstein Seeks to Move Sex-Crimes Trial Out of NYC Due to Media Coverage

NEW YORK — Lawyers for Harvey Weinstein are seeking to get the fallen movie mogul’s upcoming sex-crimes trial moved out of New York City, saying he can’t get a fair trial there due to overwhelming pretrial publicity.

In a long-shot motion filed with the New York State appellate court on Friday, defense attorney Arthur Aidala suggested the trial be moved to upstate Albany County or Suffolk County on Long Island.

It is not clear whether pretrial publicity about Weinstein will be less intense in either of those places given that his case has been global news for nearly two years.

The defense motion cited the enormous media coverage and circus-like atmosphere surrounding Weinstein’s past court appearances in Manhattan, even noting that Weinstein’s name was mentioned online on the New York Post’s gossip column Page Six more than 11,000 times.

“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate, and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” Aidala wrote.

The court papers also argued that Manhattan is the epicenter of the global #MeToo movement, which took off in November 2017 after dozens of women accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

“It is difficult to conceive of a similar case in recent memory that has generated more inflammatory press coverage,” Aidala wrote.

A message left with the Manhattan district attorney’s office was not immediately returned.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. He is free on $1 million bail.

Last week, prosecutors acknowledged they would return to the grand jury seeking a new indictment of Weinstein, an unusual move so close to trial set to begin Sept. 9.

Prosecutors are not expected to add new charges in the new indictment. According to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, they are seeking to put before the grand jury the testimony of a woman who claims Weinstein raped her in New York in the winter of 1993-1994, as a means of bolstering the testimony of the two accusers in the case.

Weinstein’s defense team – his third since he was indicted – is led by attorneys Aidala and Donna Rotunno; they have argued that a new indictment would give them another 45 days to file pretrial motions, thus delaying the start of the trial.

If an appellate judge also grants a change of venue motion, that, too, could delay the trial.

Professional jury consultants, who advise lawyers during jury selection, say the selection process isn’t designed to eliminate potential jurors just because they’ve heard or read about the case; it’s more about whether they have biases based on their life experiences and if they can set those aside, says Brittany Cross, senior litigation consultant for Magna Legal Services.

“There is no doubt it will be difficult to find a juror who has been insulated from media coverage surrounding the case, let alone 12 of them,” predicts Cross. “Moving the trial to an area outside New York County will most likely give the defense its best shot at a fair jury, and jury selection will be critical for the parties in this case.”

But Rachel York Colangelo, managing director of jury consulting for Magna, says not everybody – not even in New York City – is a news junkie following every detail of the case.

“One would be surprised at how little some people may actually have read, heard, or care about his case in particular, or the #MeToo movement in general,” Colangelo says.

This piece originally appeared on USA Today on August 21, 2019.

How to Improve Court Reporting Skills

Court Reporting Skills

Court reporting is an essential aspect of the litigation process. From depositions to closing arguments, shorthand reporters ensure that a detailed record of all proceedings is maintained for the record. Even the most skilled experts in this field, however, should continuously practice their skills to keep up with the fast-paced environment of courtrooms and depositions. Here are a few tips on how you can constantly improve:

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Text Messages at Heart Of Border Agent’s Upcoming Trial

Matthew Bowen, a Border Patrol agent accused of running over a Guatemalan migrant in southern Arizona and then lying about it, is slated to go to trial later this month.

Bowen’s trial comes after prosecutors in Arizona twice failed to win a conviction against another agent, Lonnie Swartz, who fatally shot a teenager through the border fence.

At the heart of the case against Bowen lies a series of text messages prosecutors say he sent before and after the alleged attack. One read: “guys are being made to think any use of force results in you being investigated and so they are letting tonks get away with too much.” The word tonk is a slur for migrants.

Rachel York Colangelo, with the juror consulting firm Magna Legal Services, says those text messages will impact the jury.

“Text messages such as the one you’ve seen in this case show a level of aggression and a certain mindset of the agent that belies the sort of story line of acting on the defensive and an innocent accident happening,” she said.

Defense attorneys are asking the judge to push back the trial date so they can review other evidence.

This piece originally appeared on 91.5 KJZZ on August 2, 2019.

Jury Selection Begins in Dauphin County for Fatal Police Shooting of Unarmed Teen

Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday in downtown Harrisburg for the trial of a Pittsburgh-area police officer charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager last year.

Residents of Dauphin County are being picked as jurors for this case because of concerns it would be hard to find an impartial jury in Allegheny county, where the incident occurred.

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