Jury selection began on Thursday (1/16/20) for trial against Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, for alleged rape. More than 100 pre-screened potential jurors reported to a Manhattan criminal court for the case against the producer and co-founder of Miramax. Over 2,000 jurors have been summoned for this high profile case- about five times more than the typical sized pool needed for this kind of lawsuit.
Weinstein is accused of five charges, including rape and predatory sexual assault. The lawsuit has been brought about by only two alleged victims but starting in 2017, his alleged lascivious ways put him in the spotlight as dozens of women came forward and publicly accused him of rapes, sexual assaults and sexual abuse. The accusers were allegedly abused at different points over a period of at least three decades. As of summer 2019, over 80 women in the film industry had come forward with similar accusations.
While finding jurors that satisfy the needs of impartiality for both sides of a case can be an arduous task, it is predicted that this case will be particularly difficult to do this, given the amount of publicity and public scrutiny of this case, and the many other similar claims made against Weinstein over the past three years. In August of 2019, Weinstein’s lawyers were denied their request to move the trial out of New York City because of the heightened level of media scrutiny they thought a jury trial in the city would cause.
Supermodel Gigi Hadid was one of the 60 potential jurors that were excused based on answers they had given on written questionnaires. One of the men in the jury pool was given a summons to appear in court in March for possible contempt charges because of his posting about the case on social media.
Justice James Burke has allocated two weeks for jury selection.