Jury selection is complete in Harvey Weinstein’s trial, following a contentious process and accusations that the defense was trying to exclude white women from the panel.
The 12-member jury is composed of seven men and five women. Three alternates were also chosen. Opening statements are expected to take place on Wednesday.
Each side was allotted 20 peremptory challenges — allowing them to exclude jurors for any reason. Two white women made it onto the panel after the defense ran out of challenges.
One of the white women wrote a novel about predatory older men in New York. After the woman was seated on the jury, the defense objected and asked for a mistrial, alleging that the woman had misrepresented herself on the jury questionnaire. The request was denied.
The other jurors are six white men, one black man, two black women, and one woman who is black and Latino. Of the three alternates, one is a white man, another is a black woman and the third is a Latino woman.
Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi lodged a complaint on Thursday accusing Weinstein’s defense of systematically keeping young women off the jury.
“They have eliminated every single white woman from this prospective jury panel,” Illuzzi said to the judge. At one point on Friday, when the defense asked to strike another young woman, Illuzzi exclaimed, “Unbelievable!” from her seat.
While the defense did push to remove many young women, Justice James Burke accepted their reasoning for excluding the jurors. One potential juror working in the modeling industry (which hits close to home for the case) and another potential juror recently posting a photo of a women’s march on her social media with the message, “If you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention.”
Defense attorney Damon Cheronis also accused Illuzzi on Friday of trying to keep men off of the panel. Illuzzi ran through a list of all the men she had approved.
“I do not find there has been a systematic exclusion of men from the D.A.,” Burke said.
Before jury selection got underway on Friday, Cheronis asked to delay swearing-in of the jury until next Wednesday, in order to give the appellate court time to respond to the defense’s motion to move the trial out of New York City. The judge swiftly denied the request, saying, “I intend to swear the jury at the point that we have one, which the D.A. seemed confident that we are going to have one, so if that is the case, I have no order of the appellate division telling me not to do that.”
“The appellate court will be notified prior to the jury being sworn. I don’t think there is any prejudice for the jury being sworn until Wednesday so we’re requesting that,” Cheronis said, to which Burke replied, “I disagree, so that’s why I said it’s 10:40 a.m.,” indicating Weinstein’s team could run uptown to the appellate court.