How the Media Is Keeping Harvey Weinstein From Getting the Fair Trial He Deserves | Opinion

Everyone deserves a fair and impartial jury of his peers, something the media and public seem determined to deny Harvey Weinstein.

Harvey Weinstein did not commit the crimes of which he has been accused. He did not commit them when the allegations were leveled in 2017 when he was fired from the company he created, and he is still innocent today.

And, yet, scores of reporters and so-called "activists" have already determined him guilty and are sharpening their knives in eager anticipation of his punishment. What does it say about our society when a person is convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion by powerful media institutions before a single shred of legal and binding evidence has been submitted?

There are two very distinct and separate trials that seem endlessly and purposefully conflated. Only one will begin on January 6: the criminal trial. The claims made by his civil accusers are of no relevance in criminal court. The rules are different in civil and criminal court and should not be compared. The outcome in one by no means indicates the result in the other. Harvey Weinstein will stand trial in a court of law and only there should his verdict be determined.

Lawyer Donna Rotunno and movie producer Harvey Weinstein depart from New York Supreme Court with his new legal team for a hearing July 11, 2019 to ask for another delay in the start of his rape trial. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty

After being force-fed for years by the press, anyone with eyes and ears has seen or heard something about this case—just about every single day since October 2017. This 67-year-old man can't undergo surgery without ridicule. He is attacked for his appearance and accused of faking his ailments. He is chastised in public and derided during meals. All while headlines scream and televisions blare of his guilt. Yet now, more than one dozen individuals are supposed to put it all aside and judge his case fairly?

The media has made their mark. They have tainted the jury pool by spreading their pre-trial judgment across America and the world. When Mr. Weinstein walks into court to begin his trial, will there be a single person in that building who doesn't know who he is, who hasn't pre-judged him based on what they've heard, read or seen? Highly unlikely.

I say all of this not seeking sympathy for Mr. Weinstein. Nor do I expect it. I do expect, however, that he receives due process and a fair trial. The fact that this needs to be argued should raise concern for us all. There is nothing preventing you from being next. Long before you stand before a judge, the claims of a few can upend your life and destroy your reputation.

With the media running rampant, afraid of, or complicit with countless people who have axes to grind against Harvey Weinstein, the prosecutors attempted to gag me from speaking publicly. They wanted to silence the opposition to allow the press to continue pushing their narrative. The move, on their part, was a strategic one. But a weaponized press working on behalf of the prosecution serves no place in a just society. They failed because Justice Burke understands the one-sided media rampage cannot be justified. Can the same be said about society?

Had the prosecution succeeded in silencing me, I would not have been able to voice my concerns here. And the media would have continued, undisputed, proclaiming their verdict of guilt.

I'm not debating any details or refuting any claims in this column; I will do that in court. I simply ask that the foundation of laws and civil rights that this country was founded on not be crushed by the emotions of the public. Let the trial run its course, let the exculpatory emails be brought to light and let the facts be sorted out in a court of law. The truth will come out through evidence and testimony. The jury will render its verdict. Only then can society cast its judgment.

Donna Rotunno is Harvey Weinstein's lead defense attorney.