New York state’s highest court has agreed to allow former film producer Harvey Weinstein to appeal his 2020 rape and sexual assault conviction, giving Weinstein a remote chance at a new trial .
- The appeal is expected to return to court next year
- The court can uphold the conviction or order a new trial
- In February 2020, Weinstein was found guilty of raping an aspiring former actress and sexually assaulting a production assistant and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Chief Justice Janet DiFiore “allowed the appeal” on August 19, the court wrote in a letter dated Monday that was sent to Weinstein’s attorneys and reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday.
The letter does not detail the reasons that may have led to the decision and has no bearing on new rape charges against him in California.
A court spokesman said appeal arguments would likely take place next year.
After weighing the arguments of Weinstein’s lawyers and prosecutors, the court can uphold the conviction or order a new trial.
Last June, a lower appeals court upheld the conviction, rejecting arguments that the Manhattan trial judge made several errors that marred the trial.
The former movie mogul claimed the trial judge unfairly let the charges testify out of the case.
The bar for ordering a new trial is high, but Weinstein was “relieved by this decision”, one of his lawyers, Arthur Aidala, said after speaking with his client in prison.
“He hopes the court will find that he did not receive a fair trial and quash his conviction. And, as he always has, he maintained his innocence,” Mr Aidala said.
Weinstein imprisoned awaiting trial in California
Weinstein, 70, a powerful Hollywood broker who produced Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love and Gangs of New York, has become one of the most prominent targets of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements which have alleged sexual abuse at the highest level of American business, entertainment and the media.
In February 2020, a Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring former actress and sexually assaulting a production assistant.
A judge sentenced him to 23 years in prison.
Weinstein is jailed in California, where he was extradited last year and is awaiting trial on 11 charges of misconduct against five women between 2004 and 2013.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.
Weinstein’s publicist Juda Engelmayer said, “We are hopeful and grateful for this rare opportunity.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.