NEW YORK — As the process of picking potential jurors in the Harvey Weinstein trial continued Thursday, Judge James Burke told approximately 140 people in the courtroom that the trial would not be a “referendum on #MeToo.”
“This trial is not a referendum on #MeToo or sexual harassment,” he told the potential jurors at the New York State Supreme Court building. “It is not a referendum on women’s rights — there’s no controversy here that [women’s rights] are good.”
During the second week of jury selection, five people — three men and two women — were picked as jurors. Earlier in the day, model Gigi Hadid, who initially told the court she could remain impartial despite having previously met Weinstein, was dismissed from jury duty.
Burke told the prospective jurors in the courtroom Thursday that they have a right to their own beliefs as long as they don’t interfere with determining the verdict of the case.
“The issue is not if you feel strongly about those subjects, but only if those beliefs would prevent you from deciding the facts on the case,” he said.
Burke underscored the importance of deciding the outcome of the trial solely by the evidence presented in court.
“Deciding this case despite the evidence would mean that you find the defendant guilty even though it was not proven that he was, because of sympathy or beliefs about some other matter such as sexual harassment, women’s rights, or the #MeToo movement,” Burke said. “You must not do that.”
Jury selection will continue through next week. Opening statements are expected Jan. 22.