×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Harvey Weinstein Swaps Lawyers for a Second Time

Harvey Weinstein appeared in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday morning to switch his legal team just two months before he’s expected to stand trial.

The one-time powerful movie mogul was charged in May 2018 for rape and sexual assault. Since then, he’s changed his legal team twice.

His new defense attorneys, Damon Cheronis and Donna Rotunno, stepped in to replace Ronald Sullivan and Jose Baez, who on Thursday asked to be excused from the case. The two lawyers reportedly decided to part ways with Weinstein after facing pressure from the public and not getting along with their client.

Weinstein didn’t say much at the hearing. But he smiled and said “hi” to an attendee as he made his way to his seat.

In January, Weinstein’s original lawyer left his team, leading to a delay in the trial to May 2019, which was then delayed again to a new start date of September 9.

The Chicago-based team of Cheronis and Rotunno will join other defense members Arthur Aidala and Marianne Bertuna. The trial is expected to begin in two months. This will be Cheronis and Rotunno’s first time leading a court case in New York City.

The once prolific movie mogul pleaded not guilty to five counts of rape and sexual assault involving two different women, Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and an unidentified woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. If convicted, he could face life in prison. There have been more than 60 other women who have since come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault, including actress Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd, and if granted by Justice Burke, other female accusers might be able to testify in order to stoke the fire for the prosecution’s case.

Popular on Variety

In June, Rotunno had something to say about the #MeToo movement to The Wall Street Journal.

“I’m not a woman who has ever subscribed to it,” she told the Journal. “I believe women are responsible for the choices that they make.”

Gloria Allred, attorney representing the two accusers, responded to this comment outside the courthouse in a press conference.

“I agree that women are responsible for their own choices, but when will Mr. Weinstein be held responsible for his? Mr. Weinstein removed these women’s ability to choose if he forced himself on them.”

At a previous hearing in April, Assistant District Attorney for the prosecution Joan Illuzzi indicated that their side of the case should take about three weeks to complete, and Baez indicated that the defense would need about one week in response. As for the jury selection process, that should take about two weeks. At the July 11 court appearance, Illuzzi and Aidala agreed on an August 15 date to share witness lists and their total discovery findings with each other.

In a press conference after the court appearance, Rotunno introduced herself to the press, adding that she and Cheronis are dedicated to uncovering the truth about what transpired during these encounters.

“The story that we’ve heard up until this point has been very one-sided,” she said. “I can promise you that there is a truth that you have not reported on. We are here to uncover that truth over the course of the next several weeks.”

More Film

  • The Cold Blue

    Erik Nelson Wants to Preserve the Past With 'The Cold Blue' World War II Documentary

    Erik Nelson describes his documentary “The Cold Blue” as “the garage band of movies” — he didn’t have the large team or crew other documentary contenders have. “The Cold Blue” is a World War II documentary that looks at raids and B-17 bombing missions that took place during the war. Nelson’s team looked at 34 [...]

  • Ray Manzarek

    Film News Roundup: Concert-Documentary 'The Doors: Break on Thru' Set for February

    In today’s film news roundup, one-night showings of a Ray Manzarek tribute and the season premiere of “Doctor Who” have been set for 2020, and the MPAA hires a copyright expert. ONE-NIGHT SHOWINGS The Doors and Trafalgar Releasing are teaming on the worldwide Feb. 12 release of “The Doors: Break on Thru – A Celebration [...]

  • Richard Jewell

    Warner Bros. Hits Back at Atlanta Paper Over 'Richard Jewell' Legal Threat

    Warner Bros. is standing behind “Richard Jewell,” the Clint Eastwood drama that is the source of controversy over its portrayal of a female journalist trading sex for scoops. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent a legal threat to the filmmakers on Monday asking them to include a disclaimer noting that the film took dramatic license. In a [...]

  • The Irishman

    'Captain Marvel,' 'The Irishman,' Other Original Scores to Miss Out on Oscar Nominations

    The Regina Spektor song from “Bombshell” and at least six major scores including “The Two Popes” and “The Irishman” won’t be on Oscar’s music shortlists when they are announced next week. That’s because none of them are on the official Academy eligibility lists from which music-branch members are now voting. Preliminary voting ends tomorrow afternoon, [...]

  • Golden Globes Zodiac signs

    Golden Globes Nominees as Zodiac Signs

    The Golden Globes nominees aren’t the only stars of awards season. Variety turned to astrology to assign Zodiac signs to this year’s nominees. Some selections required a little more nuance — Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart” is a Virgo with a prominent Sagittarius rising and Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is a Sagittarius that wishes it were a [...]

  • Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays one

    How Production Designer Jade Healy Recreated the Beautiful Neighborhood of Mister Rogers

    Production designer Jade Healy is doing double duty this awards season. For one, her work can be seen in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” There, she created a world of angst and individuality, making use of negative space as a couple reaches the end of their relationship. In Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content