Harvey Weinstein’s fate is now in the hands of the jury.
After hearing a final rebuttal in the prosecution’s closing argument this morning, the West Coast panel of nine men and three women have begun their deliberations in the much-accused producer’s rape trial. The jury is set to go behind closed doors and formally start those discussions after their lunch break Friday.
Looking at a maximum of 60 years to life plus five if found guilty, Weinstein has been charged with two counts of rape and five counts of sexual assault in incidents in L.A. County from 2004 to 2013. Following a withering 2017 exposé by the New York Times and dozens of allegations over more than 40 years, the 70-year-old Pulp Fiction producer was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison by a Manhattan jury in March 2020 for multiple sex crimes. That case is currently on appeal in the Empire State.
Initially charged with numerous claims in Los Angeles on January 6, 2020 as his NYC trial began, Weinstein was extradited to Los Angeles in the summer of 2021 and has been held in DTLA’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility ever since. Featuring testimony from eight women who have alleged Weinstein sexually assaulted them, including current California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and three other Jane Does, the criminal proceedings in LA Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench’s courtroom started on October 24. Seated mere feet from his alleged victims, the wheelchair bound Weinstein has been present in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center for every day of testimony.
Up until just a few weeks ago, Weinstein was facing 140 years behind bars if found guilty in the LA case. However, the original 11 sexual assault charges out of grand jury indictments last year were reduced on November 15 when the four counts related to Jane Doe #5 were removed from the case almost out of the blue. In that context, coming back from a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Judge Lench and the jurors heard very different perspectives in closing arguments the past few days from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office and Weinstein’s pricey defense team on the man, the evidence and the case.
Deputy DA Marlene Martinez spotlighted the defendant as a “degenerate rapist” who utilized his Tinseltown power and position “to prey on women, to silence women.” Addressing the jury directly on November 30, she added: “The rules do not apply to him. A woman’s desperate pleas to stop? That’s a green light for Harvey.”
Adopting a more scorched Earth approach, Weinstein lawyer Alan Jackson spent the bulk of his closing argument on Thursday emphasizing reasonable doubt in the credibility of Newsom and other witnesses, as well as the prosecution’s overall case. “When you scrutinize each of the Jane Does’ individual allegations, which is your job, it’s clear that the people have not presented evidence … beyond any reasonable doubt,” the Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP partner told the jury. Deriding the material put forth by the DA’s team as “nothing,” Jackson summarized the prosecution’s case as “take my word for it that it ever happened or take my word for it I didn’t consent.” He went on to say: “The truth is immutable. It’s not a feeling. It’s not a whim. It’s not a hashtag.”
As the mistrial result earlier this week in the Danny Masterson rape case just down the hall from the Weinstein proceeding proved, predictions on how long jury deliberations will take to reach a verdict or what that decision will be is a fool’s errand. However, as in Weinstein’s East Coast case, expect a quick move to appeal if this West Coast case doesn’t go his way.