Harvey Weinstein’s highly anticipated criminal trial kicked off on Monday with a relatively brief opening session — and the scene both inside and outside the courtroom demonstrated just a sliver of the media circus that may come over the next two months.
Lines outside 100 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan began as early as 4:30 a.m. ET, with reporters from around the globe standing for hours in the cold in the hope of grabbing a coveted seat inside the courtroom.
Just after 9 a.m., Weinstein — who underwent back surgery last month — arrived at the courthouse, surrounded by his attorneys and hunched over a walker. He was greeted by at least a dozen protesters, some holding signs reading “Justice for Survivors,” and a cacophony of camera clicks.
By 9:12 a.m., the black-suited Weinstein entered the packed courtroom silently. He first took a seat in the front row of the courtroom before relocating to join his attorneys Damon Cheronis, Donna Rotunno, Arthur Aidala, Diana Fabi-Samson and Barry Kamins. Weinstein sat beside Rotunno and remained silent throughout the proceeding but took notes throughout with a silver pen on a yellow notepad.
Outside the courthouse, around 9:30 a.m., a group of “silence breakers” — including Rosanna Arquette, Rose McGowan, Lou Godbold, Sarah Ann Masse, Dominique Huett, Lauren Sivan, and Paula Williams — held a press conference and called on Weinstein to be held accountable for his actions.
Back inside the packed courtroom, where a few seats were open to the public, the proceedings began around 9:25 a.m. Rotunno and Fabi-Samson were both dressed in shades of pink, with the former opting for a bright fuchsia top and the latter a salmon pink suit. While Cheronis and Aidala stuck with dark suits, Kamins opted for a gray set and a bow tie.
On the opposite side of the courtroom was Joan Illuzi-Orbon, the assistant district attorney leading the prosecution on the case. Dressed in a gray suit, Illuzi-Orbon spoke louder than Cheronis, who primarily spoke for the defense. Early in the proceedings, Illuzi-Orbon pointedly described Weinstein as “a predator in this court.”
Gloria Allred, who represents Mimi Haleyi — one of the women whose accusations form the basis of the criminal charges against Weinstein — was also present on the first day, sitting in the front row. She remained silent during the proceedings but held a brief press conference outside the courthouse after the morning’s events had concluded.
Three court artists were also present and took their seats in the jury section of the courtroom.
Despite the seriousness of Monday’s proceedings, Justice James Burke allowed for moments of levity and occasionally offered casual comments, at one point referring to the intense publicity surrounding the case as “torture that you all are undergoing.”
In less than 90 minutes, Burke ruled on several motions. He denied a defense request to sequester the jury and ruled that an NYPD detective who was removed from the police investigation cannot be called to testify. He also denied Illuzi-Orbon’s request for a gag order to preclude the defense from speaking about the case outside the courtroom, telling Weinstein’s attorneys to “leave the witnesses alone.”
The trial continues on Tuesday with the prescreening process for potential jurors. Jury selection is expected to last at least two weeks but will likely be a drawn-out process, given the publicized nature of the case. Weinstein faces five counts for predatory sexual assault and rape. He has pleaded not guilty and denied all accusations of non-consensual sex.