Entertainment No new jury, mistrial after opening statements

No new jury, mistrial after opening statements

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NEW YORK – Opening statements in Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes trial concluded Wednesday with a blast from the defense team about the jury “poisoned” by prosecutors’ descriptions of Weinstein as a “predatory monster” who posed for pictures with former President Bill Clinton.

When the seven men and five women of the jury left the courtroom for the day, Arthur Aidala, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, told Judge James Burke that “the jury is tainted and we need to start again.” He said Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast’s opening statement, which included pictures on a courtroom screen of the ex-movie mogul on red carpets and posing with Clinton, was “completely inappropriate.”

“To show President Bill Clinton in a sex crimes case to be put up on the screen …Clinton has nothing to do with this case. It’s 100% irrelevant,” Aidala said. “Nobody mentioned that former President Obama’s daughter interned for Mr. Weinstein. President Obama wasn’t brought up – it was only Mr. Clinton’s name that was brought up to influence this jury.”

Burke denied Aidala’s motion to start over with a new jury.

Another defense attorney, Damon Cheronis, asked the judge to declare a mistrial, arguing that it was “unfair” to ask the first witness on Wednesday, former Weinstein employee Lance Maerov, to describe Weinstein’s appearance and personal characteristics, including his “slovenly” dress and his heavyset frame. Under cross-examination, Maerov also acknowledged he didn’t much like Weinstein.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi defended the questioning, saying the jury should understand that instead of the older man who uses a walker they see at the defense table, “the man these (accusers) met was a loud, imposing, large man, not the frail man you see over there.”

Burke denied the motion for a mistrial.

Weinstein, 67, is on trial on five charges, including rape and sexual assault, stemming from encounters with two accusers, one who says he raped her in 2013 and the other who says he sexually assaulted her in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty.

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