But one potential juror is facing a possible jail time on a contempt charge after he allegedly posted about his summons on Twitter in violation of Judge James Burke’s orders.
“There’s one person who did clearly violate the court’s (order),” Burke said asking for the man to be brought into court. In walked a bearded, middle-aged man with glasses and wearing a light green coat.
“I am asking you to return to this courtroom… to show cause for why I should not hold you in contempt” and facing 30 days in jail, Burke said.
He told the man to return to court on March 10, and advised him to come back with an attorney. “If you cannot afford an attorney, then I can get one for you…OK, good luck.”
“Thank you,” responded the man.
Also early Thursday, the cast of potential jurors in Weinstein’s rape trial narrowed once again Thursday, with the dismissal of supermodel Gigi Hadid.
Hadid, 24, was spotted shortly before 9 a.m. walking into the courthouse trailed by a person resembling a body guard. Holding a black handbag in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, Hadid didn’t say anything as she disappeared into a room.
A few minutes later, she left the courthouse. Court officials confirmed she was cut from the list of potential jurors, an expected development following the attention her presence in court generated.
More than 60 other prospective jurors were dismissed because of the answers on their questionnaires, leaving a little more than 140 left.
Before screening resumed, Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, again sought to persuade Burke to further question the jury pool behind closed doors. “I think asking these questions in front of other people can be quite difficult and will contaminate the entire pool,” she said.
Again, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi objected, saying that despite the substantial number of dismissals during screening, “approximately 50 people on every single panel have said yes” to the question of whether they can be fair and impartial.
But Burke again reiterated his denial of the defense effort.
“Your application has been denied, there will be no individual sequestration,” he said. “The method in which we are doing this four-part, laborious, time-consuming jury panel is working…I will be attentive to your concerns.”
Weinstein, who is on trial on rape and sexual assault allegations involving three women, appeared in court Wednesday for another day of jury screening.
His team filed another motion seeking to move his sex-crimes trial out of Manhattan, this time arguing that initial screening shows the jury pool has been “tainted” by a “deluge” of prejudicial pretrial publicity further amplified by new charges filed in Los Angeles as the trial opened.
“The current venue has devolved into a carnival-like atmosphere that no prospective juror can avoid,” according to the motion filed by one of Weinstein’s defense lawyers, Arthur Aidala.
Since last Wednesday, hundreds of prospective jurors have appeared in a Manhattan courthouse to answer verbal and written questions about whether they can be unbiased in his highly publicized case – a source of constant media attention since allegations were first lodged against the ex-producer in late 2017. Many people have said they could not be impartial for various reasons, including that they have closely followed news about Weinstein’s accusers or know somebody involved in the case.
On Thursday, those potential jurors who have not been dismissed will return to court for the second phase of screening, in which 12 jurors and six standbys will be selected. This process is likely to last through the end of the week, before opening statements begin Jan. 22.
Harvey Weinstein trial:Gigi Hadid called as potential juror, says she’ll keep ‘open mind’
Contributing: The Associated Press