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BBC News America Weinstein judge warns defence as verdict nears

Image copyright AFP Image caption The 67-year-old denies five charges, including rape and sexual assault The judge in the Harvey Weinstein rape case has warned the lead defence lawyer not to talk to the press, after she penned an opinion piece on Saturday.Writing in Newsweek, Donna Rotunno called on jurors to “do what they know…

BBC News America

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AFP

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The 67-year-old denies five charges, including rape and sexual assault

The judge in the Harvey Weinstein rape case has warned the lead defence lawyer not to talk to the press, after she penned an opinion piece on Saturday.Writing in Newsweek, Donna Rotunno called on jurors to “do what they know is right”.But she told Justice James Burke the piece was not intended to address the jury directly.The row came before the jury of seven men and five women were sent away to try to reach a verdict.Mr Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former actress Jessica Mann.The trial began in New York last month.Accusations of sexual misconduct against the Hollywood producer by dozens of women helped drive the #MeToo movement.Only two of the accusers’ cases, those of Mimi (Miriam) Haleyi and Jessica Mann, have led to individual criminal charges in New York, but the testimony of others is being used as supporting evidence.What did the judge say?Judge Burke instructed jurors on Tuesday morning before they retired to consider their verdict.

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EPA

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Donna Rotunno, pictured here with fellow defence attorney Damon Cheronis, denied directly addressing jurors

As the court session opened, prosecutors asked the judge to instruct jurors to ignore the Newsweek piece as it was “100% inappropriate”.Judge Burke refused the prosecutors’ request, but restated a ban he imposed at the beginning of the trial on both defence and prosecution from giving media interviews. “I would caution you about the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut,” he told Ms Rotunno.The defence attorney responded: “This is an op-ed about the jury system as a whole, about the criminal justice system as a whole.”In the piece, she accused her opponents of trying to influence the trial.”The mocking of Mr Weinstein’s walker, the unflattering courtroom-artist sketches of his body, the countless critical op-eds and biased stories, and the convenient timing of
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