Judge in Harvey Weinstein trial denies bid to adjourn jury selection

The judge opened the second day of the trial by reprimanding the disgraced producer for using a cellphone in court.
Image: Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein leaves the courtroom in New York City criminal court on Jan. 6, 2020.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

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By Adam Kuperstein and Daniel Arkin

The judge presiding over the Harvey Weinstein rape trial rebuffed a move by his lawyers that might have delayed the proceedings — and scolded the former film producer for using a cellphone in court Tuesday.

Weinstein's lawyers had asked the judge, James M. Burke, to adjourn jury selection because a new sex crimes indictment against the disgraced mogul in Los Angeles was "the talk of the town at this moment."

Burke denied that request.

Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein's defense attorneys, then seemed to suggest it was no coincidence that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced the sex crimes charges against her client Monday afternoon, just hours after his criminal trial began in New York.

"If anyone believes" the timing was a coincidence, Rotunno said in the courtroom, "I'd like to sell them a bridge." She added that she believed the timing had been "orchestrated," without providing evidence to substantiate her claim.

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Burke opened the second day of the trial by reprimanding Weinstein for using a cellphone in the courtroom after he had previously been told that was not allowed. The judge threatened to place Weinstein in custody over the infraction.

The judge then told Weinstein: "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?"

Weinstein, 67, entered the courthouse Tuesday hunched over a walker after a reported back surgery.

The former producer faces charges that he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on another woman in 2006.

He is being charged in Los Angeles with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents on two consecutive days in February 2013, the district attorney's office there said.

Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty in the New York case, has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sexual activity.

In all, more than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct going back decades, but the New York criminal trial centers on allegations from two women.

The allegations first came to light more than two years ago in investigative reports published by The New York Times and The New Yorker.

NBC News obtained a copy of the questionnaire that will be given to prospective jurors Tuesday morning. The lengthy document asks generic questions about possible jurors' personal backgrounds, educational history and prior juror service.

The questionnaire also poses at least one question specifically related to Weinstein:

"The defendant, Harvey Weinstein is a film producer. This case has been widely publicized over the last year, including extensive in-depth coverage of prior proceedings in this matter over the course of the last year. Can you assure all parties that you will determine this case based only on the evidence you will hear in Court?