Judge approves new Weinstein legal team led by #MeToo critic


After a hearing Thursday morning in Manhattan two months before the criminal trial of Harvey Weinstein, the fallen mogul's new defense lawyer blasted the #MeToo movement as she stepped into the spotlight.

The new team includes MeToo critic and female attorney, Donna Rotunno, who specialises in defending men in sexual harassment cases.

"Mr Weinstein has engaged in behaviour that makes this representation unreasonably hard to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements", Baez wrote.

Gloria Allred, who represents one of the alleged victims as well as one witness in the criminal trial, held her own news conference outside the courtroom.

"When you come forward and make an allegation and that allegation is deemed true, and we've seen many instances of that in our justice system, I think it's unsafe to say these women are so empowered and it's wonderful when there's a potential to ruin someone's life", she said.

Having originally retained leading NY attorney Benjamin Brafman, who battled unsuccessfully to get the case dismissed, Weinstein then switched out his team earlier this year and brought in Baez and also Ronald Sullivan, a Harvard law professor, who withdrew in May after protests on campus.

Baez, known for representing high-profile clients such as Casey Anthony, told Burke in a letter last month that Weinstein has tarnished their relationship by communicating only through other lawyers and by failing to abide by a fee agreement.

Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis, both from Chicago, are taking on a client whose alleged sexual assaults sparked the #MeToo movement.

Next week in DE, a key hearing in the long-running Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case will determine if the proceeding can be converted from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7.

"I chose to represent Harvey Weinstein because I think these are the types of cases that lawyers that do what I do live for", Rotunno said outside the courthouse after the hearing.

A pretrial hearing in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault case has been playing out in open court, but two conversations among the judge and lawyers happened in secrecy.

As the accusations against Weinstein mounted, his company Weinstein Co fired him and filed for bankruptcy, and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The switch delayed the start of his trial until September 9. "I was honored to take on the case".

As he walked out of the court today, Harvey ignored requests for interviews with reporters.

Weinstein has maintained, via two previous legal defense teams, that the sexual encounters were consensual.

Lawyer Jose Baez is going to court Thursday to get a judge's permission to leave the case.

The swap comes after another Weinstein lawyer, Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan, left in May amid backlash about his involvement.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.