Weinstein May Seek Cuomo’s Help To Dodge Extradition To LA
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Law360, New York (August 14, 2020, 6:23 PM EDT) — Convicted rapist and fallen Hollywood mogul-turned-inmate Harvey Weinstein signaled to a local New York judge Friday that he may ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop his extradition to Los Angeles to face rape charges there.
In a brief hearing where extradition arguments were postponed until December, Weinstein counsel Norman Effman told Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case that he may petition Cuomo to keep his client in New York, likely arguing that transferring him to Los Angeles amid current COVID-19 levels in California would violate the state’s duty to care for his health and safety.
Harvey Weinstein appeared via video link at his maximum security prison east of Buffalo, New York, where his attorney signaled he may seek the governor’s help to fight an extradition request from Los Angeles to face rape charges there. (Pool via Spectrum News – Buffalo)
“Mr. Weinstein is not giving up any of his rights at this point,” said Effman, referring to the opportunity to challenge the temporary extradition to California. Importantly, he noted that the famous inmate has another avenue to pursue: “We can address the issue to the governor, who would then have 30 days to either do nothing, grant the request or deny it.”
Judge Case set a deadline for early January for the governor to respond to the request, 30 days after the Dec. 11 court date when the parties are poised to argue over the proposed extradition.
A spokesman for the governor said he was unaware of Weinstein’s potential request.
Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault against two women in February following a blockbuster trial. He was sentenced to 23 years in state prison on March 11. Weinstein’s attorneys are preparing an appeal.
Just two hours after sentencing in the New York case, Los Angeles prosecutors announced they had begun the extradition process to arraign Weinstein on their own four-count indictment, which was unsealed in January on the eve of the New York trial.
Los Angeles prosecutors allege that in February 2013 Weinstein raped a woman one day and proceeded to sexually assault another woman the next day, according to a news release. If convicted of the L.A. charges, Weinstein could face an additional 28 years in California state prison.
On Friday, Weinstein appeared remotely from the maximum-security Wende Correctional Facility east of Buffalo, his arms crossed in front of his chest in black prison scrubs and a blue surgical mask across his face. He answered the judge’s queries politely, but gruffly, sitting with his walker.
“Let me know if you’re having any trouble hearing me, all right?” Judge Case said at one point, addressing the man on the monitor.
A source familiar with Weinstein’s defense strategy told Law360 that an application to the governor would center on New York’s duty to care for the health and safety of its inmates.
Given the higher rates of COVID-19 in California at this time, Weinstein would argue that it’s unsafe for him to be moved across the country, especially considering he would be moving from a state prison, with greater services for long-term inmates, to a Los Angeles county jail, with fewer services for a man of his age and health conditions.
Moreover, to comply with the extradition statute time frame, the county has an obligation to bring him to trial within 120 days of his transfer and he would argue that due to COVID restrictions the state is not in a position to do so.
If Cuomo accepted those arguments he could theoretically deny Los Angeles’ petition for extradition, because he has “total discretion,” the source explained.
The last-minute agreement to postpone the extradition came on Thursday evening, Effman told Judge Case at the hearing.
“Our office has agreed with the defense to delay the extradition 120 days due to pandemic concerns,” said Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles district attorney.
Since journalists first published accounts in 2017 detailing Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults against scores of women, his accusers have filed a series of lawsuits against him and his businesses. His former production company filed for Chapter 11 in March 2018, forcing women to file claims alongside other creditors. Several women and a district judge sharply criticized a settlement deal that was floated in July. A modestly revised deal is pending before the bankruptcy court.
Erie County is represented in the extradition matter by Colleen Curtin Gable and Matthew Powers of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
Weinstein is represented in the extradition matter by Norman Effman. He is represented in the Los Angeles rape case by Blair Berk of Tarlow & Berk PC. He has been represented in the New York rape case by Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis and by Arthur L. Aidala, Diana Fabi Samson, John S. Esposito and Barry Kamins of Aidala Bertuna & Kamins PC.
Los Angeles County is represented in its rape case by Paul Thompson of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The Los Angeles rape case is The People of the State of California v. Harvey Weinstein, case number BA483663, in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
The New York rape case is New York v. Weinstein, case number 02335/2018, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
–Editing by Bruce Goldman.
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