Judge Refuses To Remove Himself After Weinstein Lawyers Claim Bias


In a 15-minute ruling read aloud from the bench, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Burke defended his admonishing of Weinstein, contending the producer was "defiant and challenging to court officers" on Tuesday when he was ordered to stop using his phone in court.

When Donna Rotunno agreed to represent former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as lead defense attorney in his NY rape trial, she believed that her gender could prove to be an asset in the courtroom. Burke has not ruled on the motion.

"Mr Weinstein, is this really the way you want to end up in jail ... by texting and violating a court order?"

On the same day Weinstein's trial began in NY, prosecutors in Los Angeles filed charges against him for rape and sexual assault, which allegedly took place in 2013.

Harvey Weinstein's attorney Arthur Aidala speaks to reporters following the third day of jury selection in Weinstein's sexual assault trial. Weinstein's lawyers also want more time for individual questioning of potential jurors and asked for permission to have his jury consultant sit with his lawyers during such questioning.

Weinstein, who is recovering from recent back surgery and has been seen shuffling into court this week using a walker, is charged with raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on another in 2006. If convicted, he could receive a life sentence. So far, 66 prospective jurors have advanced to the next stage in what is expected to be a lengthy selection process aimed at finding people who can keep an open mind about the disgraced movie mogul. The 67-year-old has said any sexual activity was consensual.

Those charges accuse Weinstein of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another woman there on back-to-back nights in 2013.

On Monday, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced new sexual assault charges against Weinstein.

"There was no reason for the Los Angeles DA's Office to make the announcement when it did, other than to unfairly taint the jury pool in this case".

Burke also praised the media and suggested they haven't appeared biased against Weinstein.

The motion came after another complaint lodged by Weinstein's legal team Wednesday, which unsuccessfully tried to bar attorney Gloria Allred from the courtroom because she may be called as a witness.

Weinstein's lawyers argued Allred shouldn't be allowed to watch trial testimony because they're considering calling her as a witness, but Judge James Burke rejected the request, saying there was too much uncertainty over whether she'd take the stand to remove her.

So far, 93 of 240 potential jurors have been dismissed by the judge, most of whom said they could not be fair and impartial jurors in the Weinstein trial.

"The press are to be applauded on how well they have maintained themselves", he said.