The Harvey Weinstein scandal has a lot of moving parts headed towards an important hearing next week that will set the next stage in the criminal proceeding. On one end, Weinstein has been pushing a Delaware bankruptcy court to allow him to recover files maintained by The Weinstein Co. and then permit him to use those emails and other documents to defend himself from sexual assault charges in New York. On the other end, there’s still pending civil lawsuits, including one class action from his many accusers. On Thursday, those women sounded the alarm about Weinstein’s efforts.
“He should not be able to play federal courts in different jurisdictions with diametrically-opposed positions,” state twin motions arguing for both a protective order and for the civil action to proceed.
First, the protective order.
It’s partly in response to Weinstein’s efforts to obtain emails between him and his accusers and then hold up those communications as exculpatory evidence.
“In fact, Weinstein’s criminal defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told Plaintiffs’ counsel he intended to unleash these emails in the media to sway the court of public opinion. Despite these threats, Weinstein has not produced any of the documents with Plaintiffs—and discovery is not open in this case.”
Weinstein’s accusers in civil court are making a rather extraordinary request. A demand that he share what has been obtained is certainly not unusual, but then there’s a bid to get a New York federal court to restrict Weinstein from releasing any of these materials to the media or any third party. The women want time to address confidentiality concerns, which may be understandable, although there’s now less than a week left before Weinstein makes his bid to escape criminal charges.
Weinstein’s attorneys respond in a statement, “The seeking of this protective order comes as no surprise. The plaintiffs in the Geiss case know that it is only a matter of time until the bankruptcy court releases Harvey Weinstein’s emails to the public. There is no privileged or confidential information contained in the emails, and in fact, they demonstrate a drastically different tale from what the plaintiffs have alleged in the media and in their legal complaint. Ironically, they are trying to silence Mr. Weinstein and doing all they can to prevent the truth from coming out. This strategy will not bode well, as they are going behind the bankruptcy court’s back, which has sole jurisdiction over these emails and the plaintiffs know it. To claim sexual assault and then take such measures to prevent the truth from being heard speaks volumes of their motives.”
Second, there’s the issue of whether the civil proceeding will be paused to allow the criminal case to go first. Weinstein asserts that he’ll be unfairly prejudiced if he has to assert Fifth Amendment rights should he be called to testify in the class action before he’s resolved the criminal situation. Given that prosecutors may look to some of these women suing him to be “prior bad acts” witnesses, there’s the possibility of interplay.
But as Brafman allegedly threatens to “unleash these emails in the media to sway the court of public opinion,” attorneys for the suing women say in a court brief, “These are hardly the actions of a Defendant concerned about his Fifth Amendment rights.”
If all that is not enough to keep Weinstein’s lawyers on their toes at the moment, there’s also a development this past 24 hours in the Ashley Judd lawsuit as a judge has just denied his bid for a protective order to stop discovery on her claims of being defamed when she allegedly rebuffed his advances at a hotel in the 1990s.