US judge in Harvey Weinstein's rape trial, James Burke, threatened to put the former producer in jail after catching him using his mobile phone during the jury selection. The judge also threatened to revoke Weinstein's bail, asking him if he wanted to be jailed for the rest of his life because of violating a court order. The former producer has been out on bail with a condition to wear a tracking device at all times.
According to reports, the jury selection in Harvey Weinstein's trial started with James Burke talking to 120 potential jurors about the relevance of a jury and making them aware of the accused's identity. Burke told them that all those who had even heard about the allegations against Weinstein will not be disqualified from potential selection as one of the jury members. He went on to read out the list of names that might come up in the rape trial such as actress Alyssa Milano and Charlize Theron, who have accused Weinstein of misconduct.
According to reports, prosecutors said that they might bring in three witnesses to testify against the accused even though he has formally been charged for sexually assaulting them. It is said that the testimony is to further strengthen the case against the former producer to establish that he had a constant behavioural pattern.
Forty of the 120 potential jurors were excused from selection after mentioning that they could not be impartial and a few others said that their health will not permit them to serve as jurors. The ones that remained were asked to fill up a written questionnaire and come back on January 16 for further selection, only if they could serve on the jury.
The written questionnaire consisted of 55 questions with a statement that read- the defendant, Harvey Weinstein is a film producer. The questionnaire asked the jurors if they could determine the result of the case based on the evidence provided in court. The potential jurors were also asked if they had read up about the cases against Weinstein. One of the questions also asked if they or any of their family members had been a sexual assault victim or if they had ever worked in the entertainment industry.
According to reports, Judge James Burke declined Weinstein's lawyer Arthur Aidala to cause a delay in the rape trial or allow more time to select a fair jury. The request by Aidala came after LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey charged Weinstein based on accusations of him sexually assaulting two unidentified women in the year 2013. Aidala said that with the charges against his client printed in every newspaper, it will not be possible to select a fair and impartial jury for the trial.
Harvey Weinstein's trial based on high-profile sexual assault charges began on January 6, more than two years after the film mogul was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women during the #MeToo movement. Weinstein will be handed life imprisonment if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges by the New York state court. According to reports, the trial is expected to be six-week-long.