Harvey Weinstein has hired a new legal team to handle his rape and sexual assault case in New York, including attorneys who represented one of his most prominent accusers, actress Rose McGowan.
Weinstein has hired Jose Baez and Ronald Sullivan, of the Baez Law Firm in Miami; Pamela Mackey of Denver, Colo.; and Duncan Levin, who handled asset forfeiture and money laundering cases in the office of Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr.
A veteran celebrity defense attorney, Baez represented McGowan in a cocaine possession case in Virginia. McGowan is not involved in the criminal case, but she has accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997.
“I can confirm that I, along with Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan, have been retained by Harvey Weinstein,” Baez said in a statement. “Mr. Weinstein steadfastly maintains his innocence in this matter and we are looking forward to assisting Mr. Weinstein in his defense.”
Baez and Sullivan also said they have consulted with ethics counsel regarding their representation of McGowan, and “we are certain no conflict of interest exists. We wish Ms. McGowan well with all her future endeavors.”
Mackey works for the Denver firm of Haddon Morgan Foreman, and is best known for successfully representing Lakers star Kobe Bryant in his 2003 rape case.
Levin, of the New York firm Tucker Levin, is a former state and federal prosecutor. He was chief of asset forfeiture under Vance, whose office is prosecuting Weinstein. He now consults with businesses on regulatory and fraud issues, according to his firm’s website. He also represented Guo Wengui, the Chinese real estate billionaire who is living in exile.
Last week, attorney Ben Brafman announced that he would withdraw from the case. Brafman and Weinstein had differences over defense strategy, and the conflict came to a boil as Weinstein sought to add attorneys to his team.
Weinstein faces five charges involving two women who claim that he assaulted them in 2006 and 2013. His trial is currently set for May 6, though it is likely to be postponed to give the new attorneys time to get up to speed. Weinstein could face life in prison if convicted.
Baez was relatively unknown until he took on the case of Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of murdering her daughter in 2011. He has also represented NFL star Aaron Hernandez, winning an acquittal in a double murder case.