Judge Threatens Harvey Weinstein With Jail For Using Cellphone On Day 2 Of Trial

Harvey Weinstein was harshly rebuked by a New York judge on the second day of his rape trial after the judge discovered the former Hollywood mogul using his cellphone in violation of court rules. 

“Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life ― by texting in violation of a court order?” said New York State Supreme Court Judge James Burke, according to The Guardian. The disgraced Miramax and Weinstein Co. executive is facing the possibility of life behind bars on five charges of sexual misconduct, including rape.

Burke had told all parties that all phones had to be switched off and no outside communication would be allowed from the courtroom for the duration of the highly anticipated trial, which kicked off with jury selection Monday. Laptops are allowed for note-taking only. 

Weinstein arrived at the courthouse Tuesday morning using a walker. When the judge entered the room, he observed Weinstein using a phone. Court staff then informed Burke that the defendant had brought three other phones into the room.

Burke told Weinstein’s lead attorney, Arthur Aidala, that he was prepared to instantly revoke Weinstein’s bail if he violated court conduct again.

“My advice to you is before you come into the courtroom, take his cellphone and put it in your briefcase,” Burke told Aidala. “It’s my understanding that he did hand over his phone, but then he had two more.”

To Weinstein, who reportedly looked ready to speak, the judge advised: “You might want to invoke your right to counsel in silence right now.” 

Weinstein’s trial is expected to last eight weeks, with jury selection taking up the bulk of the first two weeks.

Prospective jurors received a questionnaire with 72 questions about where they live, work, what they do in their spare time and whether they have had any connections to the entertainment industry.

Due to the widely publicized nature of Weinstein’s alleged crimes, prospective jurors are not expected to have never heard Weinstein’s name but must be able to “assure all parties” that they will base their decisions only on the evidence presented in court.

Aidala’s request to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial was denied on Monday. 

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