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Weinstein: Judge Should Be Out Over Texting Jab

Lawyers say judge made 'inflammatory' remark
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2020 4:44 AM CST
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Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for jury selection in his sexual assault trial Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in New York.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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(Newser) – Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial is in still in the jury selection phase, but the former Hollywood bigwig wants a new judge already. CNN reports that Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala filed a letter Wednesday asking New York County Judge James Burke to recuse himself after making "prejudicial and inflammatory" remarks the previous day. After Weinstein ignored a request from court officers to stop using his phone before Tuesday's hearing, Burke threatened to revoke his bail. "Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order?" he asked him. "Is it?"

In the letter, which Burke is expected to address Thursday morning, Aidala argues that the remarks have created a situation in which the court's impartiality could be questioned. "Either the Court was suggesting that an appropriate sanction for use of a cell phone in court was life in prison, or, the Court was suggesting that Mr. Weinstein is guilty, would surely be convicted, and that the Court already knew that it intended to sentence him to life in prison," he writes. Weinstein's lawyers also argue that Burke failed to safeguard Weinstein's right to have an impartial jury in the Manhattan trial by declining to grant a "cooling off" period after prosecutors in Los Angeles announced new rape and sexual assault charges Monday, the AP reports. (Read more Harvey Weinstein stories.)

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