On the day of the Oscar announcements, one-time movie mogul Harvey Weinstein got some bad news from a judge in reference to the class action suit against him. Weinstein had raised concerns about his Fifth Amendment rights, but the judge says it can move forward.
The Hollywood Reporter says that U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein determined that the class action lawsuit against Weinstein can proceed, and determined that oral arguments can begin on March 7. But for the embattled movie executive, this is a complication in his criminal case.
Weinstein reportedly was hoping for “the Cosby treatment,” meaning that he thought that the judge would stay the civil case in order for the criminal case to move forward alone. But things have changed since the Cosby case launched, and there is no longer preferential treatment being handed out.
The Weinstein legal team argued that overlap in the two cases might force him to refuse to give depositions early in the case over Fifth Amendment worries.
His lawyers told the court that Weinstein should not be “forced to make the difficult choice between being prejudiced in the civil litigation if he asserts his Fifth Amendment privilege or from being prejudiced in the criminal litigation if he… waives that privilege in the civil litigation.”
Harvey Weinstein looking for a woman lawyer to defend him against charges of rape and sexual assault. https://t.co/qpNaMeCgJg— carolynryan (@carolynryan) January 22, 2019
The plaintiffs in the civil case argued that postponement would be prejudice against them due to financial concerns, says a brief submitted to the court.
“At this stage in the litigation, Weinstein’s Fifth Amendment concerns are merely speculative. No testimony is required of Weinstein at this early pleading stage. The briefing and hearing on any motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint will not implicate Weinstein’s Fifth Amendment rights whatsoever.”
The judge agreed, and the next hearing date for the criminal case will be on the same date as oral arguments in the civil case.
Harvey Weinstein came out ahead on only one front, and that concerns another amendment which involves his rights to speak out. The women in the civil action claim that Weinstein is using their personal information against them in a public battle in the press. The defense team said that this is the only way for their client to respond to the charges against him, and gagging him would violate his First Amendment rights, and the judge agreed. Judge Hellerstein refused to put anything in the way of Weinstein’s defense, which will fall to a new legal team now that Brafman is departing.