Harvey Weinstein Prosecutor Says His Lawyer’s Newsweek Op-Ed ‘Borders on Tampering With the Jury’

Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lead attorneys, told jurors to “look past the headlines” in a Sunday op-ed

Last Updated: February 18, 2020 @ 7:47 AM

Prosecutors in the Harvey Weinstein trial argued on Tuesday that an op-ed published Sunday in Newsweek by Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lead attorneys, was “blatantly against the rules of a judicial procedure” and “borders on jury tampering.”

“If this is the conduct that is allowed to persist in this courthouse, then we are all lost,” Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi told the judge on Tuesday, right before jury deliberations were scheduled to begin in Weinstein’s criminal trial. “It’s completely, 100% inappropriate behavior. It borders on tampering with the jury.”

In her op-ed, Rotunno requested that jurors — who are specifically told not to read any media coverage of the trial — to “look past the headlines.”

“I implore the members of this jury to do what they know is right and was expected of them from the moment they were called upon to serve their civic duty in a court of law,” Rotunno wrote.

In court on Tuesday morning, Rotunno and her colleague, Damon Cheronis, defended the op-ed, saying that it was a broad piece expressing Rotunno’s feelings about the “jury system as a whole.”

“This is not a letter to the jury. This was an op-ed on my feeling on the system as a whole,” Rotunno said.

Justice James Burke did not grant the prosecution’s request to sanction the defense team but warned the attorneys to once again refrain from communicating with the public about the trial. “I will caution you about the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut,” Burke said.

The 12-person jury is expected to begin deliberations on Tuesday after hearing weeks of testimony. The ex-mogul faces five felony charges for predatory sexual assault, first- and third-degree rape, and a forcible sexual act. He has pleaded not guilty and denied accusations of nonconsensual sex.