Judge gives Harvey Weinstein's attorneys 30 days to challenge extradition to L.A.

By James Queally, Richard Winton April 30, 2021 Updated 9:57 AM PT Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Copy Link URLCopied! Print

Harvey Weinstein will remain in a New York state prison for at least 30 more days as his attorneys challenge plans to extradite him to Los Angeles to face rape and sexual assault charges.

At a court hearing in New York on Friday, prosecutors filed new paperwork that gives the disgraced producer until May 30 to challenge the extradition to L.A.

Unless Weinstein’s attorneys make a successful habeas corpus argument, he will be in L.A. this summer awaiting trial on charges that he sexually assaulted five women in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles over a decadelong span.

L.A. prosecutors charged Weinstein in January 2020 with four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual penetration by force.

A grand jury returned an indictment against Weinstein, 69, on those charges this year, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. Those sources described the indictment as a procedural move largely meant to avoid a preliminary hearing and preempt potential speedy trial issues in Los Angeles, where the COVID-19 pandemic has created a huge case backlog in the county’s courts, but it still brings Weinstein one step closer to a trial.

The first public mention of the indictment came during Weinstein’s last extradition hearing April 12. The film mogul’s attorneys alleged there were errors with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office’s extradition request, possibly stemming from the fact that the indictment changed the case’s identification number in the county court system, which played a part in Friday’s continuance.

Weinstein has remained in custody at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y., since March 2020, after a Manhattan jury convicted him of rape. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Though his defense attorneys are allowed to petition New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to block the extradition, the governor is not expected to intervene.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault, misconduct and harassment by more than 80 women throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Dozens of accusers came forward after news stories in the New York Times and the New Yorker detailed assault allegations against the mogul. Weinstein, who is appealing his conviction in New York, has denied all wrongdoing.

Lawyers for Weinstein have said they asked Los Angeles prosecutors to allow Weinstein to appear remotely for his arraignment and early hearings in the case, as he has multiple surgeries scheduled in New York this year. He is “almost technically blind,” according to attorney Norman Effman, and needs eye surgery. The L.A. County district attorney’s office has not responded to requests for comment on the status of the Weinstein case.

“We are eager to defend Harvey against these spurious charges, but not unless he is first allowed a fair and lawful extradition process that will account for his ongoing medical treatment in New York and the fact that COVID still prevents him from having an in-person trial in the Los Angeles courts for the foreseeable future,” defense attorney Mark Werksman said in a statement Friday.

Werksman, in an interview, questioned why the L.A. County district attorney was hurrying to get his client to Los Angeles.

“Why can’t they wait to early next year given the COVID conditions…. Why not wait until the emergency is over?” he said. “We want a fair trial in public where we can see the faces of witnesses and the jury and the public can see how the court is working.”

Weinstein appeared for the virtual hearing dressed in black and seated at a conference table inside a state prison. He only spoke to agree to the virtual appearance.

The charges against Weinstein in Los Angeles stem from accusations levied by five women between 2004 and 2013. One of the women, Lauren Young, testified as a “prior bad acts” witness against Weinstein at his New York trial, alleging he groped her and masturbated inside the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2013.

A second accuser, an Italian model who spoke to The Times anonymously several years ago, has accused Weinstein of raping her at the Mr. C hotel in Beverly Hills in 2013.

The identities of the other women are not publicly known, and the indictment against Weinstein remains subject to a protective order.