#MeToo: Jurors Finalised for Harvey Weinstein's Trial

#MeToo: Jurors Finalised for Harvey Weinstein's Trial

Harvey Weinstein’s trial is set to have its opening statements heard on January 22 in multiple cases of rape and sexual misconduct

Hollywood’s disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein will be called in for hearing on January 22 as the jurors to assess his trial have been finalized. According to Associated Press, a jury of seven men and five women has been selected for Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial. The final list of jurors comes after intense screening and questioning for two weeks, wherein the scores of people who had already made up their mind about the producer were dismissed. The trial will begin with opening statements next week as Weinstein is accused of harassing several women through the course of his career, who has also now come to be seen as the arch-villain of the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein has been one of the most powerful and feared studio bosses in Hollywood. He was also behind Oscar winning films such as Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love, who has been charged with raping a woman in a New York City hotel room back in 2013. He also charged with forcing another woman to get physically involved with him in his apartment back in 2006. While the women in both cases have accused Weinstein of forcing them, he, on the other hand, shared that any such activity was consensual. If he is found guilty, he could face a life sentence.

During the jury selection process, prosecutors accused Weinstein’s lawyers of trying to keep young women off the panel so that it does not affect the verdict in court. The defense also demanded a mistrial as one of the jurors is the author of an upcoming novel wherein young women deal with predatory older men. The request was denied, but Weinstein’s lawyers continued to claim that the juror withheld information on her questionnaire. Defense attorney Donna Rotunno shared, “We got the best jury we could get under the circumstances. I’m obviously not happy with what happened in the end there. I think that was an absolutely ridiculous decision.” She added that the defense wasn’t specifically trying to exclude young women but didn’t want jurors too young to understand the way men and women interacted in the early 1990s. Another Weinstein attorney, Arthur Aidala commented, “That was a different time in New York and on planet Earth.”

Despite the defense’s efforts, the final gender makeup of the jury has turned out to be more closely balanced. Three alternates — one man and two women — have also been asked to sit through the trial and take the place of any jurors who can’t make it through to deliberations. Weinstein while stepping out of the courthouse was asked about his thoughts on the jury selection to which he retorted, “Ask Donna!”

On the first day of jury selection, Judge James Burke had asked about 120 potential jurors if they could be unbiased to the case. 40 shared that they could not be impartial which is when the judge asked them to be sent home. For a week following that, many others who were called in also shared that they couldn’t be impartial. Over 600 people has been summoned for the case, wherein some confessed themselves to disqualification by admitting that they knew one of Weinstein’s many accusers or have had a personal experience with sexual abuse, or read Catch and Kill, a book by Ronan Farrow who was one of the first reporters to expose the allegations against Weinstein.

Supermodel Gigi Hadid was also summoned for jury duty and briefly remained in the running even though she said she had met the defendant. A man whose wife starred on a show that Weinstein’s studio produced said he couldn’t be impartial. Another woman said she couldn’t be impartial because she has a “close friend who had an encounter with the defendant in his hotel room.” Yet another man was scratched for saying he couldn’t be fair-minded because he had often spotted Weinstein on the phone, screaming at someone.