Half Of The Jurors In Harvey Weinstein's Rape Trial Are White Men
Defense lawyers and prosecutors are expected to deliver opening statements on Jan. 22.
NEW YORK — The panel of jurors who will sit on Weinstein’s trial consists of seven men and five women, with three alternates to replace them in case any juror needs to be absent.
The jury includes six white men, one black man, two black women, a Latino woman, and two white women.
On the final day of voir dire — the process through which jurors are questioned by lawyers in order to select the final jury — lawyers for both sides asked jurors questions related to what they might see and hear during the trial, and how those things could affect their ability to be impartial.
“Would any of you hesitate to find the defendant guilty even if it was just on the basis of one witness’s statement?” lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Osborn asked the panel.
Lawyers for Weinstein were more explicit in their line of questioning.
“Does anyone here think that a young actor or actress might have a sexual relationship with an older man for a reason other than love? Whether they find that person attractive or not?” Damon Cheronis asked.
Another question from the defense included, “Do you agree that someone might have sex with someone that was consensual and then years later say it was not?”
During discussions with the judge over who should serve on the jury, prosecutor Illuzzi-Osborn accused the defense of “systematically eliminating white women” from the list of potential jurors. Before Friday, no white woman had been selected to serve on the jury.
As several women were dismissed as potential jurors, the prosecution repeatedly raised objections with the judge. At one point, Illuzzi-Osborn shook her head and audibly muttered, “Unbelievable.”
Lawyers for Weinstein pointed out that not all of the women they were looking to strike as potential jurors were white.
One woman dismissed by the defense on Friday was struck off as a potential juror because her Facebook cover photo is a shot from the Women’s March, featuring the slogan, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
Another woman was dismissed because she works in finance, which, defense lawyer Arthur Aidala argued, meant she was exposed to news stories about men holding women back from professional success and because she had been exposed to “locker room talk.”
“Does she feature in the article?” Judge James Burke asked. Aidala said that she had not.
Another woman juror was dismissed because she had worked as a model in the past.
“The photos of her online are very similar with some of the witnesses who will testify — they’re modeling photos,” Aidala said. “So it’s unlikely that she will not have some kind of bond with the witnesses. She’s also said that she’s an actress who didn't make it — who knows how she may respond to Mr. Weinstein, a Hollywood producer, being on the panel.”
When Illuzzi-Osborn raised the issue again, after the defense moved to strike another woman as a prospective juror, Aidala argued that she “wasn’t even born ... when some of the testimonies are from.”
“A lot of this has to do with the way the world worked in New York, on planet Earth, at the time. This is a person who does not have the life experience to appreciate that… she had to read about it in history books,” Aidala said.
A final woman whom Weinstein’s lawyers sought to remove had said in her juror questionnaire that she had been sexually, emotionally, mentally, and verbally abused by former boyfriends. Burke denied having her dismissed, stating that being a victim of violence did not, in any way, affect her ability to be an impartial juror.
The prosecution and defense will make their opening statements on Jan. 22.