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Harvey Weinstein Trial Judge Says Audible Protests Outside Courthouse Won’t Taint Jury Selection

”It’s not my fault or how I dressed … the rapist is you,“ protestors shouted outside of courthouse

Attorneys for Harvey Weinstein said a pool of prospective jurors “may have been tainted” by a protest that took place outside the courthouse on Friday morning, but Justice James Burke disagreed that the commotion was heard clearly enough inside the courtroom that eliminating the panel was necessary.

Around 11 a.m., a group of protesters began singing and chanting outside of the trial. According to tweets from the New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, the protesters were chanting phrases like, “It’s not my fault or how I dressed … the rapist is you.”

Weinstein attorney Damon Cheronis, citing Kantor’s tweets, said it was “hard not to see” how prospective jurors hearing the commotion in the courtroom would not have been “tainted” by the “flash mob” and requested that the same panel of prospective jurors be stricken.

But Justice Burke, who acknowledged he also heard the commotion outside, noted that even the defense attorneys weren’t able to determine what the protesters were saying until they checked their cell phones outside of the courtroom. He also said that it was unlikely that the prospective jurors were able to hear that the protests were about Weinstein.

“The reality is people chant and protest outside this courthouse more often than not,” he said, noting that he “tried really, really hard to listen to it” to determine whether the protests were about the case while it was taking place.

The judge said that future protests are likely to happen and could be heard “crystal clear,” but that it wouldn’t likely have the effect on potential jurors.

“It makes any juror, a Manhattan juror in our case, more conscious of their duty to determine testimony and evidence based on only what occurs in this courtroom, and not outside,” Burke said.

For the record: This article previously misstated that the defense was asking the pool of prospective jurors to return.