Harvey Weinstein’s defense team has asked again for a change of venue, arguing that his rape trial has devolved into a media circus.
Weinstein’s team asked in August to move the case to Albany or Suffolk County, on Long Island, saying the intense media scrutiny in Manhattan would make it impossible to get a fair trial. The New York state appeals court denied the request in October.
His defense lawyers filed a renewed motion on Wednesday to move to a “quieter jurisdiction,” saying that the media attention on the case has proven their earlier warnings correct. Of the 142 prospective jurors who have filled out questionnaires so far, 130 of them had heard about the case, the defense said.
Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala argued that his client had been subjected to a “perfect storm of prejudice,” citing an “alarmingly high” percentage of prospective jurors who said could not be fair. Last Friday, a group of about 100 anti-rape activists staged a demonstration outside the court.
“Reporters and camera crews fill the entrance to the courthouse and line the hallways leading into the courtroom, celebrity press conferences denouncing the Defendant occur on the courthouse steps, and protests and demonstrations are audible inside the courtroom during proceedings,” Aidala wrote.
The defense asked for a hearing on the motion for a new venue at noon on Thursday at the appellate court. The motion also seeks a pause in jury selection while the appeals court considers the new request.
The defense has earlier asked for a pause in the trial after charges were filed against Weinstein in Los Angeles, and for Justice James Burke to recuse himself. Both those requests were denied.
Burke has said he expects to commence live questioning of potential jurors on Thursday. Opening statements are expected to take place on Jan. 22.