Harvey Weinstein’s walker made a return as the subject of conversation among attorneys in the ex-mogul’s New York rape trial today, with lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi sparking a loud response from the defense when she referred to the walker as a “prop.”
“It is not a prop!” shouted Weinstein attorney Damon Cheronis.
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The jury already had been dismissed for the day when the exchange occurred.
Outside the courtroom, as Weinstein walked — walker-assisted — he responded to a reporter’s shouted question about whether the device was, indeed, a prop.
“I’ll have a race with you,” Weinstein responded sarcastically, with a smile. The team’s spokesman Juda S. Engelmayer told the reporter, “Just look at him.”
The issue came up during the attorneys’ courtroom discussion with New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke about the details of the legal instructions he’ll present to jurors on Thursday. Cheronis previously had requested permission to call Weinstein’s back surgeon to the stand to verify that the walker is necessary and not a ploy for jury sympathy; the judge denied the request.
But today Cheronis again broached the subject, arguing that since the surgeon request was denied Monday, he now requests that prosecuting attorneys not make reference to Weinstein’s walker or his seemingly ill health.
Illuzzi downplayed the issue by noting that the jury has not, in fact, seen Weinstein enter and exit the courtroom even if (as she pointed to the device that’s been by Weinstein’s side throughout the trial) “the walker has been there as a prop.”
“It is not a prop!,” countered Cheronis, calling the prosecution’s opposition to the doctor’s testimony while simultaneously dismissing the walker as a prop “very disingenuous.”
Illuzzi indicated that she doesn’t intend to bring up the walker in final arguments, adding loudly and while pointing at Weinstein, “But I can’t tell them that’s not the man they saw.”
On his way out of the courtroom, Weinstein laughed off the “prop” question but remained mostly silent when asked repeatedly by reporters whether he wanted to testify today (the defense rested without calling him to the stand). Weinstein seemed to say “sure” when asked if he would have liked to defend himself on the stand.
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