Jury Selected for Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial

A jury was selected Thursday morning in Harvey Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial, after almost two weeks of screening and juror questioning.

The jury will comprise of nine men and three women, many of whom said they didn’t hold strong (or any) opinions about the #MeToo movement, which grew into a global reckoning following Weinstein’s fall from grace in 2017. The former mogul was the first major figure to be convicted in the #MeToo era.

One of the female jurors said she was “on the fence” about #MeToo in her jury questionnaire.

“I believe most women but not necessarily all,” she elaborated in court on Thursday.    

Among the selected jurors was a man who said he wasn’t worried about negative reaction from friends or family who may say the verdict “sets back the cause of women” if Weinstein were to be found not guilty.

Another juror, an older white man, has a daughter who is an attorney.

“I have a great deal of respect for both sides of the table and our system of justice,” he said earlier this week when questioned by the defense — during an examination process called voir dire.

Of the 27 jurors who entered the courtroom on Thursday morning, nine were excused later in the morning. Among them was a man who said the #MeToo movement was “pointless and fraudulent,” another who insisted that it’s hard to prove a sexual assault without DNA evidence, a woman who indicated that she had a problem with people being prosecuted for crimes that were more than eight years old and a man who said in his field of work, women “lie and say Me Too.”

The morning proceedings were briefly interrupted by a one-minute earthquake drill.

When Judge Lisa B. Lench informed the lawyers in the morning, before jurors were brought inside, that they would need to lower and cover their heads as part of the upcoming drill — but wouldn’t need to drop to the ground — Weinstein’s lawyer Mark Werksman strongly objected to the judge, both teams and his client, especially, needing to prostrate themselves in front of the jury.

“I will go to my grave remembering the day in the Harvey Weinstein trial when we had to put our hands over our heads like monkeys,” he said, insisting that the jury would never be able to erase that image of his client, who’s facing life behind bars, “cowering” before them.

“It’s an assault on the dignity of the court,” Werksman said, calling the exercise “undignified” and “infantilizing.” “Some pinhead in the office of emergency preparedness has come up with a drill that makes no sense in this courtroom.”

Lench eventually agreed that neither they nor the jury would need to duck and cover their heads.

Weinstein faces 11 charges relating to five women, which span from 2004 to 2013. Nine sexual assault accusers, in total, will testify in the trial.

The 70-year-old is already serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of rape and sexual assault two years ago in New York. If convicted in L.A. — where he faces up to 140 years in prison — he would effectively be behind bars for life.

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