EXCLUSIVE: Harvey Weinstein is looking for new lawyers to lead his rape appeal in Los Angeles.
Earlier today, a Los Angeles Supreme Court judge dismissed a trio of remaining sexual assault charges against the inmates Pulp Fiction producer after Deputy LA County District Attorney Paul Thompson officially said the office would not try Weinstein again on said charges. Jacqueline Sparagna, associate of Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, represented Weinstein in court on Tuesday with her client in a wheelchair nearby and said the producer is innocent of the charges he was convicted of late last year.
In that vein, the prosecutor’s practical decision not to seek a risky new trial sets the stage for Weinstein to formally appeal the 16-year sentence he received on Feb. 23 in the City of Angels.
Weinstein will not use the services of Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson in that appeal, I hear.
The self-proclaimed Clarence Durrow-reading producer, who himself declared his “innocence” in a statement to Deadline on Tuesday, is looking for a brand new team. The much-accused Weinstein, 70, is already serving a 23-year sentence following his 2020 conviction in the New York City trial, and it is almost certain that he will die in prison, as things stand with the additional LA penalty.
No new attorney or office has yet been elected, but from his cell in DTLA’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Weinstein would be reaching deep into the West Coast legal community in hopes of overturning last year’s verdict. Of course, there are a number of potential candidates who would have lined up to work for Weinstein at some point but wouldn’t even take his call. “I wouldn’t go near that son of a bitch with a ten-foot pole,” said a well-known Tinesltown criminal defense attorney.
“He needs a new strategy to even stand a fighting chance,” another Hollywood legal highflyer said of the producer’s impending appeal, which has already been notified. “To question the credibility of the state’s witnesses, you must present a convincing counter-story. To do that, you need a lawyer who communicates well, who sends a message to the jury with their presence.
“I don’t want to sound like a fossil, but I think he should take on a woman,” the Century City-based male attorney added.
Weinstein representatives had no comment on the producer recruiting new lawyers. Werksman and Jackson did not return requests for comment from Deadline today.
After a two-month trial, an LA jury on Dec. 19 found Weinstein guilty on all counts related to Jane Doe #1, who later publicly identified herself as former model Evgeniya Chernyshova. The counts related to Weinstein’s rape of Chenyshova in her hotel room during the 2013 LA Italia Film Festival.
However, on other charges, the panel of eight men and four women found Weinstein not guilty of sexual battery against Jane Doe #2, and they were jailed on charges against Jane Doe #3 and Jane Doe #4, the latter being California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
“He tried to ruin my life and the lives of so many other women,” Siebel Newsom said in a statement read in court today by Deputy District Attorney May Martinez. “He deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Accompanied by her attorney Gloria Allred at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Lauren Young (Jane Doe #2) on Tuesday expressed her disappointment at the decision not to try again. In and out of court, Young said she wanted Weinstein “to be held accountable for what he did to me.” Young testified in both Weinstein’s NYC and LA trials. Also represented by Allred, Jane Doe #5 – revealed today as Kate Jaggard – said in a statement: “In my opinion, the conviction was a victory for all victims of sexual assault.” The Australian actress saw her charges dropped by the DA’s office midway through the LA case, and she was never called as a witness.
Even before Jane Doe #1 revealed her own identity and before the criminal case ruled, Chenyshova filed a civil suit against Weinstein. The prosecution alleges sexual assault, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress during the February 2013 sexual assault in a Beverly Hills hotel room. With Jane Doe #1 saying in the criminal trial that she had no interest in money, but the financial element of the civil case was soon weaponized by the Werksman Jackson & Quinn team as another example of what they characterized as the lack of credibility of Jane Doe #1 and lying under oath.
As his East Coast case progresses for a hearing in the New York Court of Appeals, that armament will be at the heart of Weinstein’s LA appeal
“Now he and his team can only focus on JD #1’s claims, of which there is enough support and evidence to confirm Harvey’s claims that it never happened, and he did not know or meet this person, including a lie detector test performed by a world-class examiner,” a spokesman for the producer said Tuesday after the remaining charges were dismissed.
Who that LA “team” will be is yet to be determined.
On his New York appeal, Weinstein is represented by Arthur Aidala, retired NY Supreme Court Justice Barry Kamins, and Diane Fabi Sampson of Aidala Bertuna & Kamins PC. Aidala herself was one of three attorneys representing the producer in his criminal trial in Manhattan in 2020. That failed team was led by Chicago-based Donna Rotunno, along with her colleague Damon Cheronis.