EXCLUSIVE: Harvey Weinstein is looking for some new lawyers to lead his Los Angeles rape verdict appeal.
Earlier today, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge tossed out a trio of remaining sexual assault charges against the incarcerated Pulp Fiction producer after Deputy LA County District Attorney Paul Thompson officially said the office would not retry Weinstein on said charges. Representing Weinstein in court Tuesday with her wheelchair-seated client nearby, Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP associate Jacqueline Sparagna said the producer is innocent of the charges he was convicted of late last year.
In that vein, the practical decision by the DA not to seek a risky retrial sets the stage for Weinstein to launch a formal appeal of the 16-year sentence he received back on February 23 in the City of Angels.
Weinstein won’t be using the services of Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson in that appeal, I hear.
Declaring his “innocence” himself in a statement to Deadline on Tuesday, the self-declared Clarence Durrow-reading producer is searching for a brand-new team. Already serving a 23-year sentence after his 2020 conviction in the New York City trial, the much-accused Weinstein, 70, is almost certain to die in prison as things stand with the additional L.A. sentence.
No new lawyer or one new firm has been picked yet, but from his cell in DTLA’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Weinstein is said to be reaching deep into the West Coast legal community in the hope of overturning last year’s verdict. Of course, there are a number of possible candidates who once would have lined up to work for Weinstein who don’t even want to take his call. “I wouldn’t get near that mother*cker with a 10-foot pole,” said a noted Tinesltown criminal defense attorney.
“He needs a new strategy to have an even a fighting chance,” another Hollywood legal highflier said of the producer’s forthcoming appeal, for which a notice has already been filed. “To question the credibility of the state’s witnesses, you have to offer a compelling counter narrative. To do that, you need a lawyer who is a great communicator, who sends a message to the jury with their presence.
“Not to sound like a fossil, but I think he needs to hire a woman,” the Century City-based male attorney added.
Reps for Weinstein had no comment on the producer recruiting new lawyers. Werksman and Jackson did not return requests for comment from Deadline today.
After a two-month trial, on December 19 a LA jury found Weinstein guilty on all counts in relation to Jane Doe #1, who later publicly identified herself as former model Evgeniya Chernyshova. The counts were related to Chenyshova being raped by Weinstein in her hotel room during the 2013 LA Italia Film Festival
However on other charges, the panel of eight men and four women determined that Weinstein was not guilty of sexual battery against Jane Doe #2, and they were deadlocked on charges on Jane Doe #3 and Jane Doe #4, the latter being California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
“He tried to ruin my life and the lives of so many other women,” Siebel Newsom said in a statement read out in court today by Deputy DA May Martinez. “He deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Accompanied by her lawyer Gloria Allred at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Lauren Young (Jane Doe #2) on Tuesday expressed disappointment in the decision to not retry. In and out of court, Young said she wanted Weinstein “to be held accountable for what he did to me.” Young testified in both Weinstein’s NYC and LA trials. Also represented by Allred, Jane Doe #5 — revealed today as Kate Jaggard — said in a statement, “In my opinion, the conviction was a win for all sexual assault victims.” The Australian actress saw her charges dropped by the D.A.’s office around the midway point in the L.A. case and she never was called as a witness.
Even before Jane Doe #1 revealed her own identity and before the criminal case verdict was in, Chenyshova filed a civil case against Weinstein. Claiming sexual battery, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress over the February 2013 sexual assault in a Beverly Hills hotel room, the plaintiff is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. With Jane Doe #1 saying in the criminal trial that she had no interest in money, but the financial element of the civil case quickly was weaponized by the Werksman Jackson & Quinn team as another example what they characterized as Jane Doe #1’s lack of credibility and lying under oath.
As his East Coast case moves forward for a hearing in the New York Court of Appeals, that weaponization that will be the heart of Weinstein’s L.A. appeal
“Now, he and his team can focus on JD#1’s claims alone, of which there is ample support and proof that corroborates Harvey’s claims that it never happened, and he didn’t know or meet this person, including a polygraph test conducted by a world-class examiner,” a spokesperson for the producer said Tuesday after the remaining charges were dismissed.
Who that L.A. “team” will be is TBD.
In his New York appeal, Weinstein is represented by Arthur Aidala, retired NY Supreme Court Judge Barry Kamins and Diane Fabi Sampson of Aidala Bertuna & Kamins PC. Aidala himself was one of the trio of lawyers who represented the producer in his 2020 Manhattan criminal trial. That unsuccessful team was led by Chicago-based Donna Rotunno, along with her colleague Damon Cheronis.