By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Harvey Weinstein has launched an appeal against his convictions for rape and sexual assault, more 12 months after he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Lawyers for the disgraced Hollywood mogul, 69, argued in legal papers lodged in New York he was denied a fair trial and requested his convictions be reversed.
The Manhattan court Weinstein was tried in was “permeated with negative publicity about him and his alleged relationships with women”, according to the filing, and there were “carnival-like conditions”.
The filing added: “Mr Weinstein had a right to a fair trial by an impartial jury. The trial court should have exercised the utmost vigilance in protecting this most important right of the defendant.
“Instead, the trial court was cavalier in its obligation to safeguard this right and the consequences for Mr Weinstein were disastrous.”
Weinstein, a prolific film producer, was once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood before his downfall in October 2017 ignited the #MeToo movement.
Multiple women came forward in the New York Times and New Yorker to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour, triggering a wider reckoning for men accused of abuse.
He was convicted in February last year of raping a woman in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on another woman at his apartment in July 2006.
The appeal, which had been expected since the Oscar-winner had been found guilty, argued Weinstein’s trial was “overwhelmed by excessive, random, and highly dubious prior bad act evidence, none of which shed light on disputed issues”.
It said some of the women who gave evidence should not have been allowed to testify.
Over almost 170 pages, lawyers said the evidence against Weinstein was “weak” and the prosecution instead “inundated” the jury with “copious tales of alleged misconduct”, much of which was not criminal and “served no legitimate evidentiary purpose but merely depicted Weinstein as loathsome”.
The filing added: “Simply put, the prosecution tried Weinstein’s character not his conduct.”
Weinstein’s lawyers also took issue with one of the jurors.
They said one of the people who found the producer guilty had written an autobiographical book “about the predations of older men against younger women”, and argued it proved they were biased against him.
Weinstein’s lawyers are requesting his convictions be reversed, the third degree rape charge dismissed as time-barred and a new trial ordered on a single count of first degree criminal sexual act based on the July 2006 incident.
They also argue his sentence was unduly harsh and excessive.
Weinstein is being held at Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York. He is also facing legal woes on the West Coast.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles are attempting to extradite Weinstein to California, where he is charged with attacks on five women, stemming from alleged assaults in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.
An extradition hearing is scheduled for April 9th.