NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was no verdict Tuesday after the first day of jury deliberations in the rape and sexual assault trial of Harvey Weinstein.
The jury deliberated for five hours, working through lunch. They had a few questions for the judge regarding legal definitions and exhibits and were unable to reach a verdict, so they’ll be back Wednesday.
It’s been nearly a month since opening statements in Weinstein’s trial.
At 11:29 a.m. Tuesday, Weinstein’s fate was placed in the hands of jurors. The judge told them they are the “judges of the facts,” CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports.
Weinstein faces two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of rape in the first degree, and one count of rape in the third degree.
The 67-year-old is accused of raping Jessica Mann at a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcing a sex act on Mimi Haley in 2006. Although actress Annabella Sciorra’s rape claim from the early 1990s is past the statute of limitations for a rape charge, it is being used for the predatory sexual assault charge to show a pattern.
Tuesday morning, the prosecution accused the defense of tampering with the jury. An op-ed written by lead defense attorney Donna Rotunno reads, “I implore the members of this jury to do what they know is right.”
Prosecutors argued, “A member of the defense team inappropriately said something publicly in an effort to sway the jury.”
The defense replied, the jury isn’t supposed to be watching or reading any press about the case, and the judge told the defense to stop talking to reporters. After court, they were mum.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office didn’t speak either, but Gloria Allred, who represents several accusers, did.
“They’re being very thoughtful. They seem to want to understand the evidence,” she said.
Meanwhile, the defense wanted a juror dismissed over alleged posts online about a book regarding consent and older men. The prosecution said it was a book about child abuse and had nothing to do with the case. The motion was denied.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN TRIAL
Legal experts say an obstacle for the prosecution was a lack of forensic evidence, such as DNA.
“It really hinges on the testimony of the witnesses,” Fordham University Associate Professor of Law Cheryl Bader told CBS2. “Whether these women are telling a very, sort of, credible, sympathetic story.”
Bader said the defense’s key strategy was to attack credibility.
“One was to show that these women are lying, that they were sleeping their way to the top, and that they were manipulating Harvey Weinstein to get their name in lights,” she said.
Bader and other legal experts believe the jury may have a hard time wrapping their heads around some accusers continuing to have contact or consensual encounters with Weinstein, but that a forensic psychiatrist who testified helped the prosecution.
“Put in context for the jury that many rapes happen within the context of a long term relationship,” said Bader.
“I think they’re really going to have to grapple with some of the dynamics of abusive relationships and domestic violence,” Jane Manning, a former sex crimes prosecutor, said.
As for the defense’s largest roadblock?
“The fact that the public knows so much about Harvey Weinstein, many reported incidents of sexual assault and sexual abuse — that was a big hurdle they had to overcome,” said Manning. “The sheer number of women testifying against Harvey Weinstein — six women with very similar stories.”
Many want to know if there’s potential pressure to convict based on the court of public opinion and the #MeToo Movement, alone.
“I don’t know that it puts pressure on the jurors. I don’t think that it does,” Manning said.
“I think it’s hard for jurors who are human not to be thinking about, ‘Do I want to be that juror who lets Harvey Weinstein off?'” said Bader.
“The prosecution needs 12 to convict. The defense only needs one for a hung jury. And that’s definitely a defense victory,” CBS News Legal Analyst Rikki Klieman added.
One thing the experts all agreed on: It was smart of Weinstein’s defense team to keep him off the stand.
He faces life in prison if convicted of the top charge of predatory sex assault.