Fallen Hollywood elite producer Harvey Weinstein may get a retrial of his 2020 rape conviction or have the charges dismissed outright, as he was granted an appeal by the New York State Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
Weinstein, 70, was sentenced to 23 years in state prison after a New York jury convicted him of third-degree rape and committing a criminal sex act after his February 2020 trial.
Harvey Weinstein's appeal of his 2020 rape conviction to be heard by State of New York Court of Appeals https://t.co/kNvDooZK8k
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In a separate case, he was later found not guilty of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault. That case arose from allegations of sexual abuse incidents in the 1990s.
The state Court of Appeals is the highest court in the New York judicial system. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore signed the order granting Weinstein’s request for an appeal.
Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala told reporters that he has advised his client that the appeal has been granted. He confirmed that Weinstein maintains he is innocent.
Aidala added that the defense team is grateful that DiFiore “acknowledged the unique legal issues in the case.” He added that he is hopeful that the full court will reverse the conviction because Weinstein “did not receive a fair trial.”
Attorney Doug Wigdor represents some of Weinstein’s victims. He said that the defendant is now “a desperate man.” Wigdor said he is confident the high court will reject the appeal in the end and affirm the trial verdict and the decision of the intermediate court to uphold it.
Weinstein said in a media statement that he is grateful to his attorneys for their hard work, which he said “will help me prove my innocence in the end.”
In their application for an appeal, Weinstein’s attorneys laid out their reasons for asking for a reversal or a new trial. One claim was that the trial judge allowed too many witnesses who testified to prior bad acts by Weinstein that were allegedly not related to the crimes alleged in the case.
They also argue that one of the jurors allowed to hear the case should have been dismissed because she had previously written a fictional book that described predatory sexual acts by older men.
Attorneys for Weinstein and state prosecutors will file briefs and supporting papers on both sides of the case. The court will then hear oral arguments from the attorneys before issuing a decision.