New York Court Overturns Weinstein’s 2020 Rape Conviction, Orders New Trial

New York Cours Overturns Weinstein's 2020 Rape Conviction, Orders New Trial
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Back in 2020, former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting Miriam Haley, a production assistant on Project Runaway; this happened in 2006 and when the conviction arrived in 2020, it was the first major moment of the #MeToo movement. The once-great and influential producer was disgraced and in 2022, a second conviction – for a rape that happened in Los Angeles – arrived and added to Weinstein’s total jail sentence.

The producer, of course, filed an appeal and the New York Cour of Appeals ruled, with a thin (4-3) majority decision that Weinstein’s due justice rights were breached when the original judge, James Burke, decided to allow testimonies by women that were not directly related to the case at hand. This is why the conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered, although Weinstein will – luckily – remain in jail due to the other conviction.

Weinstein’s attorney argued that the court perpetuated a major prejudice against Weinstein by allowing other women, not related to the case, to testify and reveal that Weinstein had assaulted them as well. This, allegedly, breached Weinstein’s due justice rights and it seems that the Cour of Appeals agrees, as Judge Jenny Rivera said:

“We reaffirm that no person accused of illegality may be judged on proof of uncharged crimes that serve only to establish the accused’s propensity for criminal behavior. It is an abuse of judicial discretion to permit untested allegations of nothing more than bad behavior that destroys a defendant’s character but sheds no light on their credibility as related to the criminal charges lodged against them.”

(Source)

On the other hand, the fact that it was a very slim majority means that the judges were not completely clear on whether there was a breach, as is evidenced by the dissenting opinion of Judge Madeline Singas:

“With today’s decision, this Court continues to thwart the steady gains survivors of sexual violence have fought for in our criminal justice system. Forgotten are the women who bear the psychological trauma of sexual violence and the scars of testifying again, and again. This erosion of precedent, born from a refusal to accept that crimes of sexual violence are far more nuanced and complex than other crimes, comes at the expense and safety of women.”

(Source)

And while many commentators are outraged by this decision, this doesn’t have to change anything. The case against Weinstein was more or less clear and even with a new trial, the final decision is unlikely to change. Weinstein’s attorney are, naturally, happy with this decision, while the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office confirmed that they would do anything to retry this case properly and gain a conviction once again.

But, some damage to the impact of the #MeToo movement was certainly done, and while everyone’s due justice rights have to be respected, this is a case whose social importante and impact are immense, and as Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represented two pre-trial witnesses in New York, said:

“Today’s decision is a major step back in holding those accountable for acts of sexual violence. Courts routinely admit evidence of other uncharged acts where they assist juries in understanding issues concerning the intent, modus operandi or scheme of the defendant. The jury was instructed on the relevance of this testimony and overturning the verdict is tragic in that it will require the victims to endure yet another trial.”

(Source)

No further information has been revealed, but we are definitely going to keep following this story, so if you want to know more, be sure to keep following us.

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