Erie County New York Judge Kenneth Case ruled on Tuesday that former movie producer Harvey Weinstein would be extradited to California to face additional charges of sexual assault.
For months, Weinstein and his legal team have fought against his transfer to Los Angeles due to his failing health and COVID-19 concerns. In April, the Los Angeles DA indicted Weinstein on 11 counts of sexual assault, bringing them straight to trial due to a grand jury decision that removed the need for preliminary hearings.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Norman Effman, noted that Weinstein has failing eyesight, arthritis, sciatica, and other health issues, and that he should be arraigned remotely instead. He also questioned the extradition request, noting some possible errors.
“What we were trying to do is not avoid the trial, but avoid an unnecessary stay in a jail rather than a prison,” explained Effman. “We are challenging the paperwork because it’s not right. It’s wrong. They just copied the form and changed the date. I realize it’s a legal technicality. That’s what due process is about, following the rules. They did not.”
Prosecutors countered that Los Angeles would have more than adequate healthcare facilities and personnel and noted that the paperwork met all legal requirements.
“It’s Los Angeles. It’s not some remote outpost that doesn’t have any sort of medical care,” retorted Erie County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable. “Every inmate has an absolute right to appropriate treatment when he or she is in custody. But they don’t have a say in when and where they get their treatment, and there’s absolutely nothing in either doctor’s report that says this treatment can’t be done in Los Angeles.
“The paperwork absolutely met the requirements of the extradition agreement.”
Judge Case agreed with Gable on Tuesday.
“Based upon everything that I’ve read and I’ve heard, I believe that I will respectfully deny your petition, Mr. Effman,” said Case. “If California doesn’t come to pick up Mr. Weinstein within a reasonable period of time, certainly, come back to see me.”
Actions to block the extradition, such as an objection from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, did not happen on Tuesday, paving the way for Weinstein’s extradition soon after a few likely writ challenges.
“We are disappointed in this decision today,” said a representative for Weinstein on Tuesday. “Just now, Mr. Weinstein’s attorney filed a writ of Habeas Corpus with the L.A. county Superior Court. We are asking the court to hold off the extradition of Mr. Weinstein to Los Angeles until he can receive his needed medical care here in New York.”
Possible political ramifications
The Weinstein trial, which has already been called by some commenters as the largest upcoming celebrity trial in California since the 2005 trial of Michael Jackson, will also likely have an effect on the 2022 election.
Over the last 5 years, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, President Joe Biden, Vie President Kamala Harris, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and others have accepted campaign funding from Weinstein, with only the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee returning funds after Weinstein’s actions and crimes became public. The linking of those campaign contributions could hurt many after the trial makes the news.
“Weinstein has fallen out of the news largely because not much has happened there,” noted former political advertising consultant Jenna Murphy to the Globe on Tuesday. “Now it will be coming back and will be in the news right as many of these people are up for reelection. You can get them on accepting it after the allegations came out and for not returning it if they took the money before the allegations. Either way, they will have a lot of explaining to do.”
“Opponents, both Democrats in the primary and Republicans in the general, can make this into sort of a Willie Horton issue, but this time with the added damage of the more well known name of Harvey Weinstein.”
“I don’t know how they don’t see this [issue] coming.”
Weinstein, who faces 11 counts of sexual assault against women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, had previously been indicted in New York of 23 counts of similar crimes. He is expected to arrive in California to face trial in the near future.
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