Judge threatens to lock up Harvey Weinstein for texting
Harvey Weinstein was threatened with jail during Tuesday's rape trial after he was caught repeatedly used his phone in the courtroom in New York.
The 67-year-old disgraced producer is facing trial in Manhattan on five counts pertaining to sexual assault – including two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape and one count of criminal sex act – and he managed to infuriate the judge during jury selection today when he was caught "calling and texting."
At the beginning of the hearing, Judge James Burke – who had seen the producer on his cell phone – fumed at Weinstein: "Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting and violating a court order?"
The judge – who was visibly angry by the action – then turned to Weinstein's defence team and said: "He was calling and texting a minute ago." Donna Rotunno - a defence lawyer - claimed she wasn't aware of the phone use. The judge snapped back: "He was aware."
Judge James then referenced past warnings at previous hearings and said if he uses his phone one more time in court then he will be taken into custody.
He said: "Mr. Aidala, this is on you if he blows it, I am pointing my finger at you."
Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi urged the Judge James to jail Weinstein as she believes there is a "grave risk" that he will realise the evidence against him is "imposing and overwhelming" and will try to run away. However, the judge decided not to jail him.
On Monday, the first day of his trial – Los Angeles prosecutors charged Weinstein with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents in 2013, and his lawyer Arthur Aidala requested that the hearing today be adjourned because a jury could not be impartial given the new charges.
He also asked for additional time during jury questioning to address their knowledge of the case or to add a question on their questionnaire about it. However, Judge James threw out both of those requests and said that jurors will presume Weinstein's innocence as he has not been convicted of any crimes.
Weinstein has denied all allegations against him.