Opening Statements in Harvey Weinstein Trial Come Into Focus

Harvey Weinstein enters New York City Criminal Court January 16 2020 - Getty - H 2020
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On Tuesday morning, attorneys for Harvey Weinstein and the State of New York fought over the confines of their opening statements in the former movie mogul’s sexual assault trial, which will be delivered to the 12-person jury Wednesday.

The opening statements will be made by Chicago-based attorney Damon Cheronis for the defense and assistant district attorney Meghan Hast for the prosecution. Both attorneys will use PowerPoint presentations.

Judge James M. Burke ruled on Tuesday that Cheronis will be allowed to quote from emails that were exchanged between Weinstein and his accusers in his presentation, but will not be allowed to display the emails in full. The defense views the emails as a central piece of exculpatory evidence.

“We are in possession of dozens and dozens and dozens of emails between Harvey Weinstein and individuals who are going to come to this court room and claim he sexually assaulted them,” Cheronis said. “The emails can’t be more relevant and probative because they include statements from the complaining witnesses in this case.… What we will be able to show through cross-examination is that witnesses who claim Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted him also bragged about being in a sexual relationship with him.”

On the other side, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said that Hast will show the jurors photos of the six women the prosecution expects to testify in the case.

Illuzzi said the photographs will be shown “so the jury can organize in their mind who will be testifying” and “so they can understand and anticipate what those women will be saying.”

The judge told both sides that, in their opening statements, they are allowed to “state what the evidence is going to show in their cross-examinations” but are not allowed to “make arguments” at the beginning of the case.

“We think an opening statement is fertile ground to talk about that the evidence will show,” Cheronis said.

The judge also went through reams of exhibits and ruled whether or not they are admissible, without stating what exactly they include. “Exhibit I regarding TMZ is not admissible,” he said.

While the schedule was not shared publicly, lawyers for the defense and prosecution discussed with the judge when their witnesses will testify.