Film producer and accused sex criminal Harvey Weinstein’s trial starts today. Depending on how the trial goes, Weinstein could find himself behind bars for the remainder of his life.
Over eighty women have accused the sixty-seven year old producer of numerous sexual misdeeds, and the public exposé that brought these allegations to the forefront of the national conversation kicked off the #MeToo movement.
In court, Weinstein faces five felony charges. The charges are based on the accusations of just two of the women who have come forward against the disgraced producer.
Weinstein’s trial is being heard by the New York Supreme Court, and is expected to last until March. There will be two weeks of jury selection and then eight weeks of argument and testimony. Following that, the jury will deliberate.
Judge James Burke will preside over the trial, and has already shown himself to be a shrewd adjudicator. In April, he forbade reporters from entering a pretrial hearing, stating he felt the presence of the media could compromise Weinstein’s right to a fair trial.
Weinstein’s defense team has insisted that it will be impossible to select an impartial jury in New York City, citing the high-profile nature of the case. However, a panel of five judges dismissed the defense’s argument to that effect in October, locking the site of the trial in as New York City.
One of the main considerations for jury selection will be finding jurors who can commit to a very lengthy trial. Due to the high-profile nature of the case, jurors will also likely be selected based on their demeanor: the court will be seeking level-headed, down-to-earth jurors who aren’t biased toward the defense or the plaintiffs.
Weinstein’s trial is likely to be a media circus as reporters and courtroom artists crowd the 120-seat courtroom. Burke, however, is likely to forbid cameras and microphones from the courtroom.
That won’t stop media outlets from thronging into the courtroom to cover the trial, as its impact on the national zeitgeist is sure to act as an icon of the #MeToo movement coming full circle.