A New York judge threatened Harvey Weinstein with jail on Tuesday (07Jan20) after flouting court rules to use his cell phone during his trial for rape and sexual assault.
The disgraced movie mogul is facing five criminal charges relating to separate incidents with two different women in 2006 and 2013, with his trial kicking off on Monday (06Jan20).
He returned to Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday for the start of jury selection, but quickly fell foul of Justice James Burke when he was spotted using his mobile in the courtroom gallery, before taking a seat at the defence table beside his legal team.
"Mr. Weinstein, I cannot implore you more to not answer the following question - that means don't say anything. Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life by texting and violating a court order?" Burke asked.
The producer, who had previously been chastised by the judge for the same issue, responded by silently lowering his head, reports the New York Post.
The courtroom clash took place shortly after Weinstein's attorney, Arthur Aidala, appealed to Burke to grant a delay in the case, insisting a "cooling off period" was necessary for a fair trial following the filing of four new sex crime charges against his client in Los Angeles on Monday.
To prove his point, he produced copies of the New York Daily News, New York Post, and The New York Times - which featured extensive front page coverage of the L.A. case, and argued: "It is the talk of the town right this moment. I don't think, using common sense, it is possible today or this week for us to pick a fair and impartial jury."
However, Burke dismissed his request, declaring, "The jury knows and will know and will be instructed and will probably be instructed that being arrested or charged with a crime is, in and of itself, meaningless. Anybody can be sued in this country, (or) arrested for a crime."
Aidala was also denied the opportunity to ask potential jurors if they were aware of the new L.A. charges against Weinstein, who has been allowed to remain free on bail despite New York prosecutors seeking he be remanded in custody in light of the latest legal developments.
The Shakespeare in Love producer, 67, has pleaded not guilty to the New York counts.
He has faced claims of sexual misconduct and rape from dozens of women since he was exposed as an alleged sexual predator in 2017, but has long denied any wrongdoing, insisting all of his intimate encounters were consensual.
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