Harvey Weinstein Defense Lawyer Reacts To Verdict In New York Trial
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Today in a courtroom in Manhattan, disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and sexual abuse. The convictions come from charges made by two women, but dozens more have accused him of being a sexual predator. Actress Rosanna Arquette was one of the first women to come forward. When I spoke with her earlier today, I asked her reaction to the verdict - guilty on two counts but acquitted of the most serious charges.
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ROSANNA ARQUETTE: It's positive. It's overwhelming. We're crying. This is justice, and it's not just justice - it's justice for all women. It sets a precedent.
KELLY: Well, let's hear next from one of Weinstein's attorneys for this trial. Arthur Aidala joins me now.
Mr. Aidala, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
ARTHUR AIDALA: Hi. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it very much.
KELLY: I want to start with the scene from the courtroom. I gather Harvey Weinstein was beside you as the verdict was read. He turned to you. And what was his reaction? What'd he say?
AIDALA: At first, he didn't say anything. You know, the first thing we heard was, not guilty. So that was a positive. And then we heard the guilty, and then we heard a couple of not guiltys (ph). And then we were most surprised to hear the final guilty, even though it was on the lowest count. It was on the witness who testified who everyone in that courtroom - 100 people-plus every day - found to be the least credible, Jessica Mann. But then he kind of just caught his breath. He was very stoic and strong. And he looked at me, and he said, I'm innocent. Like, but I'm innocent. How could this happen in America? Then I said...
KELLY: The jury obviously found otherwise - found him guilty on these two counts. Your defense in this case basically was, these women consented and then later reframed what happened between them and Weinstein as rape or as assault. Why didn't that work?
AIDALA: Well, obviously, it did work with the most serious charges, and it did work, basically, with Jessica Mann. I mean, they found him not guilty of rape with Jessica Mann, which is one of the serious charges.
KELLY: He was found guilty of one count of rape. But just overall, as a defense - I mean, your client was found guilty on two counts. What happened?
AIDALA: Well, I don't know what happened. In the jury room, quite often in cases, jurors negotiate back and forth. Well, OK. We won't find him not guilty on Annabella Sciorra, but we want you to find him guilty of something regarding Jessica Mann. And Jessica Mann - they found him guilty of the least - the lowest count. He's eligible for probation on that count. So I - you know, we were successful. I mean, when you go from a count where you're facing life in prison to a count where you're eligible for probation, I mean, that's a victory. Regarding Mimi Haley...
KELLY: He's still - I understand y'all are expected to appeal, but he will face years in prison if these convictions stand.
AIDALA: Absolutely. And believe me. Nobody on his defense team is happy that Harvey Weinstein is not sleeping in his own bed. It's just - obviously, the jury felt that one particular woman, Miriam Haley, was credible enough to rise to the level of beyond a reasonable doubt. I think the immense pressure on them from the 120 media people in the courtroom every day - from the Manhattan district attorney himself sitting in the front or second row every single day to a judge who was predisposed to making sure Mr. Weinstein got convicted at all costs - had a tremendous, tremendous influence on that jury before they even became jurors.
KELLY: I know that that's a line of the defense that has been playing out throughout the trial - is this thinking that your client was branded a rapist without due process. What do you imagine changes on appeal?
AIDALA: The judge who tried this case - was the first major high-profile case he's ever tried. And this is not my opinion as a trial attorney. Over the weekend, we had appellate lawyers read the transcript, and they were very confident that there were mistakes that were made that any appellate division judge, no matter which one - which of the four - there's four judges. Any four are going to say that he did not get due process.
KELLY: So you're...
AIDALA: The prejudices - the prejudice against him is just insurmountable to get a fair and impartial jury.
KELLY: So you're hoping for a different outcome with a different judge.
Arthur Aidala - he is one of the attorneys who was representing Harvey Weinstein in court today.
Mr. Aidala, thanks for your time.
AIDALA: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.