What the Jury’s Note Could Mean for a Verdict in the Weinstein Trial


The jury that may decide Harvey Weinstein’s destiny begins a second week of deliberations on Monday after indicating final week that it could have been deadlocked on the two most severe prices in the indictment, however probably in settlement on the lesser counts.

The jurors in the Harvey Weinstein trial despatched out a tantalizing notice throughout their lunch hour on Friday afternoon, simply earlier than they had been scheduled to interrupt for the weekend.

The notice, posed as a query to the presiding choose, Justice James A. Burke, steered that they may have reached a verdict on a few of the decrease prices in the case — rape and compelled oral intercourse — however had been unable to determine on the extra severe prices of predatory sexual assault.

The notice despatched the courtroom, full of dozens of reporters from round the world, into a frenzy. Outside of the courtroom, in authorized circles and on social media, it sparked spirited hypothesis about what the verdict is perhaps. Mr. Weinstein’s trial is the most intently watched in current historical past and the second most excessive profile sexual assault case in the aftermath of #MeToo.

Here is a few background about the prices Mr. Weinstein is going through and what the jury’s notice might imply.

While partial verdicts are by no means a fascinating consequence, particularly in high-profile issues like the Weinstein trial, they aren’t unusual. Typically, judges settle for partial verdicts solely after they strongly urge the jury to achieve a consensus and decide that the panel is hopelessly deadlocked on a few of the prices.

If a choose takes a partial verdict, then prosecutors can retry the defendant on the remaining prices with a completely different jury.

After receiving the notice, Justice Burke gave the jury a customary order to proceed its deliberations. With courtroom scheduled to finish early on Friday — at three p.m., not four:30 p.m. as ordinary — the jurors went house for the weekend and can proceed their deliberations on Monday morning.

If the jurors are following the complicated charging sheet correctly, their note indicates that they are at least mulling a guilty verdict on one or more of the charges of rape and criminal sex act.

Technically speaking, the jurors could not be deadlocked on the higher charge of predatory sexual assault without having first decided that Mr. Weinstein was guilty of a lower charge, legal experts said.

Said a different way, if the jurors had decided to acquit Mr. Weinstein on the charges involving Ms. Mann and Ms. Haley, they would not need to continue deliberating on the charges involving Ms. Sciorra.

Though Ms. Sciorra’s rape allegation is too old to be charged as a separate crime under state law, it can be used to prove the sexual predator charge.

There is one caveat here, said Mark A. Bederow, a Manhattan defense lawyer. It is possible that some of the jurors have concluded that Ms. Mann and Ms. Haley are not to be believed and are looking to convict Mr. Weinstein based on Ms. Sciorra’s testimony alone.

In this scenario, the note may be an effort by the others on the jury to have the judge step in and instruct their fellow panelists that that is not a viable legal option.

Mr. Weinstein can be convicted on all or some of the charges that accuse him of raping Ms. Mann and forcing oral sex on Ms. Haley, even if the jurors do not believe that he raped Ms. Sciorra.

But the opposite is not true. To convict Mr. Weinstein of predatory sexual assault, the jury has to find that he committed a serious crime against either Ms. Mann or Ms. Haley — or both — and that he committed a crime against Ms. Sciorra.

Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers quickly indicated in court on Friday that they were willing to accept a partial verdict and take the jury’s decision on only the lower charges, not the higher ones, which remained undecided.

The move suggested that the lawyers may have been looking to reduce Mr. Weinstein’s possible sentence. The two top charges of predatory sexual assault carry the stiffest penalty: a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.

The lower charges carry penalties that range from a conditional discharge (the equivalent of unsupervised probation) to 25 years in prison.

So, Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers might have calculated that if the jury was deadlocked on the two most serious charges and was leaning toward convicting on one of the lesser charges, the best strategy would be to stop the trial and cut their losses. They did not comment on the proceedings.



Source link Nytimes.com

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