Harvey Weinstein’s Defense Seeks to Remove Trial Judge for ‘Bias’

Defense attorneys ask Justice James Burke to recuse himself

Last Updated: January 8, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

Harvey Weinstein’s defense filed a motion on Wednesday requesting that Justice James Burke recuse himself from the former producer’s criminal trial based on “prejudicial and inflammatory comments” made on Tuesday morning regarding Weinstein’s cellphone use.

“These comments reflect the Court’s animus towards the Defendant and have created a situation in which the Court’s ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’ in violation of New York State’s Rules of Judicial Conduct,” attorney Arthur Aidala wrote in his motion. “Faced with extreme and unfairly prejudicial negative publicity both pre-trial and now during jury selection, this Court has refused the defendant’s requests for additional necessary procedural safeguards.”

On Tuesday morning, Burke reprimanded Weinstein and his defense because the ex-mogul was caught using his cellphone in the courtroom, which is strictly prohibited.

“Mr. Weinstein, I could not implore you more to not answer the following question: Is this really how you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order?” Burke said.

According to Aidala’s motion, “Actual bias is not necessary for recusal; a mere ‘appearance of bias’ mandates recusal in order to preserve the public’s confidence in the judicial system.”

The defense also took issue with Burke denying its requests to change the location of the trial, to delay the trial in light of the new sexual assault and rape charges filed Monday in Los Angeles, to allow for additional time to prescreen jurors and to have Weinstein’s jury consultant sit at the counsel table during the prescreening process.

The defense is asking for the case to be reassigned to a different judge. If not, then the defense is requesting again to delay the trial.

The DA’s office declined to comment.

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