On Tuesday, the seven-man, five-woman Manhattan Supreme Court jury in the trial of Harvey Weinstein commenced. Justice James Burke opened the day by giving jurors detailed instructions on how to decide if he is or is not guilty.
Before the jury was even called, prosecutors accused Weinstein’s lawyers of jury tampering. They objected to a Newsweek op-ed penned by Donna Rotunno, in which she asked the jury to “look past the headlines” and “to base their verdict solely on the facts, testimony and evidence presented to them in the courtroom.”
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said the piece was clearly written to help sway them toward Weinstein. “If this is conduct that is allowed to persist in the courtroom, we are all lost,” she said.
Judge Burke did not take action, and instead reminded both sides to not speak to members of the press.
“Mr. Weinstein, I would caution against the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut,” Burke said.
Weinstein faces five criminal charges, including rape. The charges stem from allegations put forward by Jessica Mann and Miriam Haley, who both testified in the trial. Annabella Sciorra and five other women also testified about Weinstein’s attacks on them in a bid to establish a pattern of behavior.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and faces life in prison if convicted.