Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys are appealing their client’s conviction after a Manhattan judge refused to dismiss a juror who wrote a novel about the “sexual predation of older men,” according to the Washington Post.
Weinstein’s legal team made the formal appeals request on Monday, when lawyers filed court documents claiming that the judge’s decision to allow the juror to continue hearing Weinstein’s case was a violation of his right to a fair trial.
The novelist, referred to as Juror no. 11, was appointed to the jury in January 2020, when the selection was finalized. It was known she was writing the novel at the time: When defense lawyers confronted her about the book’s contents, she said that the conduct she described in it was consensual, and maintained that she couldn’t remember her publisher using the word “predatory” to market the novel.
As part of the jury selection process, both the prosecution and defense have the ability to dismiss 20 jurors apiece, without having to provide an explanation. But Weinstein’s lawyers had used up their 20 dismissals before they had the opportunity to ask Juror no. 11 additional questions about her background.
“This is my biggest fear,” Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, told CNN after learning of the subject of the juror’s novel. Rotunno told the outlet that Juror no. 11 had listed “novel writing” under the “hobbies an interests” section of her juror’s questionnaire, but elaborated no further. “Not, ‘I am writing a book on this topic,’” Rotunno said. “Big difference.”
The same juror was also scrutinized for “reviewing books on predatory older men” the following month, when it was revealed that she had critiqued the book My Dark Vanessa, a novel about a young woman who was sexually abused as a teenager by her English teacher.
The defense’s appeal arrives more than a year after Weinstein, now 69, was found guilty of rape in the 3rd degree and criminal sexual assault in the 1st degree, and sentenced to 23 years in prison.
“The jury has spoken, and I believe that this conviction should not be reversed,” said Gloria Allred, the attorney for Mimi Haleyi, one of the women Weinstein was convicted of assaulting.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said the prosecution would not be commenting on the defense’s arguments until they’re back in the courtroom together: “We will respond in our brief to the court,” spokesman Danny Frost said.