State Supreme Court Judge James Burke ripped through the defense’s five-point motion calmly but like a sharp knife finally unsheathed. “There is nothing inflammatory or biased for scolding a recalcitrant defendant for not complying with the court,” he said, unsurprisingly. “I have in no way prejudged your client and gone to great lengths to ensure your client the fair trial he deserves.”
Thursday is Day 4 of the criminal trial that could see Weinstein behind bars for the rest of his life if found guilty of five felony counts. “
Harvey Weinstein Seeks Rape Trial Judge Tossed From Case Over Cell Phone Jail Threat
Preceded by almost half an hour at the bench where the judge was writing and keeping the court on tenterhooks, Burke’s decision comes less than 24 hours after Weinstein’s co-counsel Arthur Aidala brandished in court a motion to have the judge recuse himself for threatening to throw the producer in jail for repeated use of his cell phone in court. “Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life by texting in violation of an order?” Burke barked at Weinstein on January 7 in front of the defense team, prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney and others.
Eventually, Burke — who has faced daily attempts this week by the Donna Rotunno-led defense to derail or delay the high-profile matter — decided to let Weinstein off with a one-more-chance warning. But he unintentionally offered another opportunity for the producer’s lawyers in what obviously a tactic to set the stage for an appeal.
“Faced with extreme and unfairly prejudicial negative publicity both pre-trial and now during jury selection, this Court has refused the defendant’s requests for additional necessary procedural safeguards,” Aidala’s correspondence to Burke on Wednesday declared in language that has become almost commonplace from Weinstein’s various defense teams over the nearly two years since he was arrested in NYC on the sexual assault charges.
Also, having sought Wednesday to have the trial stopped or at least the paused — due in no small part to media scrutiny and a slew of charges laid by the L.A. County District Attorney on January 6, the first day of the trial — the defense is methodically laying the foundation on various levels for an eventual post-verdict appeal to claim that their client did not receive a fair stint in court if Weinstein is found guilty.