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Harvey Weinstein appeals sex crimes convictions, asks for a new trial

Lawyers for Harvey Weinstein filed an appeal Monday asking for a New York court to reverse his sex crimes convictions and grant him a new trial.

A lengthy motion filed in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division argues the disgraced Hollywood mogul’s 2020 conviction should be reversed because his first trial was tainted on several levels, but particularly by a biased judge and a biased juror.

“With a juror who had already prejudged the case against Mr. Weinstein and a trial judge intent on denying him a fair opportunity to defend himself, a verdict of guilt was inevitable. A reviewing court now has the opportunity to correct this miscarriage of justice,” a press release announcing the defense appeal says.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which tried the case for the government, will respond formally in a legal brief submitted to the court, spokesman Danny Frost told CNN.

Weinstein, 69, is serving a 23-year prison sentence for his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape at a maximum security prison outside of Buffalo, according to state records.

Weinstein, who has consistently maintained his innocence and denied all allegations against him, was found not guilty of three other charges — two counts of predatory sexual assault and one count of first- degree rape.

During trial proceedings last year, attorneys for Weinstein repeatedly pursued legal avenues for a mistrial, including claims that the judge held animus for Weinstein.

Supreme Court Judge James Burke denied a defense request for Burke to recuse himself after he threatened Weinstein with jail time for repeatedly using a cell phone in court.

“All I meant to do was scare him enough for him to discontinue use of his phones,” Burke said at the time, denying the defense’s motion for relief and recusal. “I never actually meant that I was going to put your client in jail for life.”

The new defense filing says a seated juror violated Weinstein’s right to a fair and impartial jury.

In January 2020, the defense argued Juror No. 11 held a bias against Weinstein because she was not forthcoming during jury selection about writing a novel about “predatory” older men and their relationships with younger woman.

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi argued at the time that Juror No. 11’s questionnaire included the fact that she enjoyed “novel writing.”

A defense attorney told CNN at the time the juror gave inconsistent answers during questioning.

Monday’s court filing says she was dishonest about the contents of the book. The defense argues the book, now published, is at least in part autobiographical.

CNN attempted Monday to reach Juror No. 11 for comment.

The appeal also argues Judge Burke shouldn’t have let jurors hear testimony from “prior bad acts” witnesses whose allegations weren’t related to the sexual assault charges actually leveled against Weinstein.

“Weinstein’s trial was overwhelmed by excessive, random, and highly dubious prior bad act evidence, none of which shed light on disputed issues relevant to the charged offenses,” the document says.

“Because the evidence on the charged offenses was weak, the prosecution inundated the jury with copious tales of alleged misconduct (much of which was not criminal in nature) that served no legitimate evidentiary purpose but merely depicted Weinstein as loathsome.”

The charges he was ultimately convicted on were largely based on testimony by Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann. Haley testified that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment, and Mann testified that he raped her in 2013 during what she described as an abusive relationship.

Weinstein faces additional criminal charges in Los Angeles County pertaining to alleged sexual assault involving five women.

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