The jury have finally been confirmed for the trial of Harvey Weinstein. On Friday 17 January, the 12 person panel were seated following a rigorous and time intensive process of screening 600 potential jurors, with questions being asked from both the prosecution and the defence.
The panel consists of seven men, predominantly white and five women, predominantly women of colour and three additional alternates have also been selected – one male and two females.
At the start of the case, the New York Supreme Court called around 2000 potential jurors to court. However, roughly 600 turned up and about a third of the potential jurors were dismissed after disclosing to Judge Burke that they could not be impartial jurors on the Harvey Weinstein case. More were dismissed once they shared connections that they had either to Harvey Weinstein or to the accusers.
One potential juror said he lived across the street from the Tribeca Film Center, where the Tribeca film festival is held, and could not be impartial. “On several occasions I’ve seen him on the phone screaming at someone,” the potential juror told the judge.
The case is expected to last six to eight weeks. The jury have not been sequestered and will be expected not to speak to anyone about the case, read anything about the case or post anything about the case on social media.
Judge Burke has instructed the jury pool very clearly about posting on social media throughout the selection period. A potential juror has been held in contempt of court for allegedly posting their jury summons on Twitter. He is due to appear before Judge Burke on March 10 and was instructed to find an attorney to represent him. If found guilty he could face 30 days in jail and a fine.
And so the stage is now finally set.
Harvey Weinstein is charged with raping a woman at a Manhattan Hotel in 2013 and sexually assaulting another in 2006.
Harvey Weinstein denies the allegations and has pleaded not guilty.
The jury will hear from six women who will describe how they were sexually abused by Harvey Weinstein. It will no doubt be extremely difficult and emotional for the women to tell their stories, as well as be questioned rigorously about their experience by both sides.
It will also be difficult for those in court listening to the women’s harrowing accounts and the jury have been instructed that they must base their decisions about the case solely on the evidence put before them at court and nothing else.
My Two Cents: I am surprised the selection process stayed on track and got this far so quickly with the defence team’s strong D game (Delay, Deny, Discredit, Distract, Derail) not to mention the whole Poor Me Syndrome at play. But here we are, ahead of tomorrow’s opening statements. Make no mistake, a lot hangs on this jury’s shoulders and, on the face of it, the jury appears more favourable to the defence. Time will tell.
Opening statements are set for Wednesday 22 January.