Harvey Weinstein appeared in NY court today on charges of rape and sexual assault while on the other side of the country, Los Angeles prosecutors filed separate charges related to the alleged sexual assault of two women in 2013.
As charges continue to mount against Weinstein and additional women whose claims would be time-barred keep coming forward detailing their encounters with Weinstein, his attorneys are approaching his defense as a never-ending public relations tour supposedly intended to shape public opinion about Weinstein, though it’s hard not to think it all has more to do with giving the attorneys a free advertising campaign for the next rich guy whose sexual misdeeds catch up to them. When Ricky Gervais is ripping the client in front of his former friends on national TV, a hit on the Michael Smerconish show isn’t really going to turn down the heat.
Undeterred, Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno, who has made her career out of taking shots at the MeToo phenomenon and turning it into lucrative representations, went on CNN to tell Michael Smerconish that she thinks that the ever-increasing number of women accusing Weinstein is actually going to help her client because when things are at their bleakest, there’s always refuge in batshit insanity:
“In some ways, that number sort of helps us, because once the jury sits down and the jury hears that this is only about two women, I think they start to wonder how truthful those other circumstances are,” Rotunno said. “Or, if there were so many, why aren’t they a part of the criminal case?”
That worked out so well for Bill Cosby.
There are a lot of reasons to doubt the legal acumen of the general public, but the concept of a statute of limitations ranks right up there with the first half of Miranda rights as something everyone’s had beaten into their head by decades of terrible courtroom dramas. And when I say “decades” I’m not even going beyond the Law & Order franchise.
Rotunno is an accomplished defense attorney who handled the claims against Sidley Austin partner Stan Stallworth — who was acquitted — and has found a powerful marketing niche in the response to MeToo. Still, it’s possible to promise too much in this world and “over 80 accusers is actually awesome” might be that bridge too far.
Perhaps the Hollywood imagination has infected Rotunno’s cynical Chicago outlook.
Harvey Weinstein charged with sexual assault in Los Angeles [BBC News]
Harvey Weinstein’s Lawyer Says Number of Accusers ‘Helps’ Mogul in Criminal Trial (Video) [The Wrap]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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