What the Weinstein Jury’s Lengthy Deliberation Does (and Doesn’t) Mean

Posted in: Criminal Law

In the LA sexual assault trial of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, the jury has been deliberating since December 2 without so far reaching a verdict. Are there any tea leaves to be read from the amount of time the jury has been taking?

The jury has sent the judge at least one question and asked for read backs of certain testimony. But the court has not made public what the jury has asked about.

In a case like this with multiple victims (four) and charges (seven) , it is a good sign for the prosecution that the jury did not quickly come back with a verdict. If the jury of eight men and four women were tempted by the defense argument that the sexual encounters with Weinstein were all consensual—“transactions” for career advancement is how the defense characterized events—they would probably have acquitted by now.

In Weinstein’s previous trial in New York in 2020, a jury took five days to reach a verdict on five charges involving three women. The verdict sheet in that case was one page long.  So, by comparison, there is nothing excessive in the time the jury has taken so far in LA, with a verdict sheet that runs 16 pages and has seven counts to resolve.

But the New York jury did reach somewhat of a compromise verdict, and the same could be happening in LA.  Although the NY jury did convict Weinstein of rape of one woman, and criminal sexual assault of another, they did not convict him of serial or predatory sexual assault charges that would have carried a life sentence (Weinstein is currently serving 23 years for the New York convictions).

In LA, the jury may simply be working its way through over five weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses. They must decide Weinstein’s guilt or innocence on each count separately. But if they convict on any one count, they must then decide whether Weinstein committed the same sexual offense against other women. The verdict sheet requires them to differentiate between rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible oral copulation, felony sexual assault, and misdemeanor sexual assault.

It can’t be easy to sit through and then weigh such testimony. The fact that the jury is quietly working its way through the charges is a sign that the system is working.

Whatever the verdicts in LA, Weinstein will have to serve out the remainder of his prison term in New York. Unless he wins his appeal of those convictions. In June, a New York appellate court rejected Weinstein’s first appeal of his convictions, but in August, the highest court in New York granted him the right to appeal that ruling.

Posted in: Criminal Law

Tags: Harvey Weinstein

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