Will Harvey Weinstein Testify in His Criminal Trial?

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Weinstein with defense lawyer Donna Rotunno, who has attacked media bias.

Most experts say no, but the case’s biggest mystery may be whether the defendant can keep his own mouth shut.

Perhaps the biggest mystery that looms over the Harvey Weinstein trial will be whether the defendant will take the witness stand. No pretrial court document is likely to answer this question, and the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that Weinstein can’t be compelled to be a witness against himself. Most observers believe the decision will be made during the trial, depending on whether Weinstein’s attorneys determine his testimony is necessary. 

Criminal attorneys often advise high-profile defendants to maintain silence. Then again, not every client is Harvey Weinstein, who was famous during his career for insisting he knew better than directors when it came to editing movies and who already has cycled through several defense attorneys in this case.

In mid-December, Weinstein raised eyebrows in the legal community by giving an interview to the New York Post in which he complained about not getting enough credit for movies helmed by women. The tone-deafness of the interview wasn’t as remarkable as the timing, less than a month before the scheduled trial start.

"I assure you, his attorneys were appalled by him going rogue," says criminal attorney Mark Bederow. "The judge would caution the jury not to draw conclusions from any non-testimony, but given that everyone now knows he was willing to talk to press to make himself look good, it’ll be a terrible look if he doesn’t testify."

This story appears in the Jan. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.