Weinstein lawyers ask judge to recuse himself
Harvey Weinstein's lawyers have asked Judge James Burke to recuse himself from the film producer's rape trial, accusing him of bias and of presiding "over a courtroom animus towards the defendant".
In a letter sent to the judge yesterday they complained about his reprimanding Mr Weinstein for using a phone in court. Judge Burke had said: "Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?"
Weinstein (67) is on trial in New York City on five counts of rape and sexual assault. If convicted, he might face the rest of his life in jail. He has always denied accusations of non-consensual sex.
His lawyers also claim the judge's refusal in October to change the trial's location, despite a media scrum, "created a situation in which the court's 'impartiality might reasonably be questioned'.
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"Mr Weinstein faces a daily gauntlet of reporters, gawkers, and negative backlash as he makes his way to court," they wrote.
"It has become clear to Mr Weinstein that the court has already violated its own mandate to the potential jurors by deciding that Mr Weinstein is guilty before it has heard any of the trial evidence," the lawyers added.