Tue. May 28th, 2024

Weinstein conviction overturned by New York high court, citing judicial error

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May18,2024

New York’s highest court overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape and sexual assault conviction Thursday, ruling the judge who presided over the case made “egregious errors” in the watershed trial.

In a 4-3 decision, the state Court of Appeals said Judge James Burke prejudiced the former movie producer and high-profile Hollywood figure by allowing women to testify on allegations that were not part of the case.

“We conclude that the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes,” the court’s decision reads. “The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial.”

Weinstein, 72, has been serving a 23-year sentence after being found guilty of a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape in New York City. Allegations surrounding Weinstein surfaced in 2017, helping kick-start the #MeToo movement, as more women began speaking out about sexual and gender-based violence.

The state appeals court argued Burke’s admittance of “untested allegations” harmed Weinstein’s character but offered little credibility to the criminal charges against the ex-movie mogul.

“Thus, 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,” the ruling stated.

The ruling is a major win for Weinstein’s legal team, who argued in February that Burke influenced the trial by permitting three women’s testimonies and allowing prosecutors to confront Weinstein, if he had testified, about his behavior, The Associated Press reported. Weinstein’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, argued the testimony effectively put the former movie producer on trial for crimes not included in the charges.

“We had a defendant who was begging to tell his side of the story. It’s a he said, she said case, and he’s saying ‘that’s not how it happened. Let me tell you how I did it,’” Aidala argued. Instead, the jurors heard evidence of Weinstein’s prior bad behavior that “had nothing to do with truth and veracity. It was all ‘he’s a bad guy,” the AP reported.

In a dissent, Judge Madeline Singas said the overturned conviction is part of a “disturbing trend” of revered convictions related to sexual violence. She accused the majority of “whitewashing the facts to conform to a he-said/she-said narrative by ignoring evidence” of Weinstein’s “manipulation and premeditation.”

The Hill reached out to Weinstein’s attorney for further comment.

Weinstein will remain in prison for a 16-year sentence after he was convicted of rape in 2022 in Los Angeles. He was acquitted in Los Angeles on charges involving one of the women who testified in New York.

Burke’s term expired at the end of 2022, and he was not reappointed. He is no longer a judge, The AP reported.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Weinstein conviction overturned by New York high court, citing judicial error”
  1. As a survivor of sexual assault, I find the court’s decision deeply troubling. Allowing unrelated allegations to prejudice the case undermines the justice system’s ability to hold perpetrators accountable. #MeToo

  2. I believe the court made the right decision in overturning Weinstein’s conviction. Allowing uncharged allegations tainted the trial, and it’s crucial to uphold fair judicial processes for the accused.

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