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As Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial gets underway in New York City this week with jury selection, there was one person his attorneys did not want in the courtroom.
Weinstein’s attorneys tried to bar attorney Gloria Allred, who represents three clients expected to testify in the high-profile trial including Mimi Helayi, from the courtroom, claiming that she could be called as a witness in the trial.
“Ms. Allred should not be allowed to sit in court, watch that testimony and share that testimony with her clients,” Damon Cheronis, one of Weinstein’s attorneys, argued, according to USA Today. “I’m not trying to attack Ms. Allred, I’m trying to protect Mr. Weinstein’s right to a fair trial.”
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi argued, however, that Allred’s clients would feel more “comfortable” in the courtroom and that she would not share any details of the testimony.
The judge denied the request, saying it was unlikely Allred would be called as an impeachment witness, and she was allowed to remain in the courtroom.
“Are they afraid of me?” Allred later mused to Oxygen.com of the defense’s attempt.
Allred also released a statement about the request, saying she was “pleased” the request had been denied.
“I will consider my options regarding the defense wanting to call me as an impeachment witness,” she said. “If called as a witness I intend to fully protect my client’s right to confidentially communicate with me which is protected by the attorney client privilege of confidentiality.”
Allred said she could also not be compelled to answer anything considered “work product.”
It isn’t the first time a defense attorney has tried to bar the women’s rights attorney. She told Oxygen.com that Mark Geragos and his defense team also tried to bar her from the courtroom during Scott Peterson’s murder trial for killing his pregnant wife, Laci.
“I objected and the judge also denied their request,” Allred said.
Weinstein’s attorneys also filed a motion asking the judge to excuse himself from the case, after Judge James Burke made comments Tuesday about Weinstein using his cellphone in court.
“We write to seek recusal of Your Honor from this case based on the prejudicial and inflammatory comments made by the Court to Mr. Weinstein yesterday,” the motion obtained by USA Today read.
Weinstein had spent about 10 minutes on his cellphone before Tuesday’s proceedings began — something Burke took issue with.
“Is this really the way that you want to land up in jail for the rest of your life? By texting in violation of a court order? Is it?” the judge asked.
Weinstein’s attorneys argued that the comments may have affected the court’s “impartiality.”
Burke has not yet ruled on the motion, according to NBC News.
Weinstein is accused in New York of five sex crimes against two women. He has pleaded not guilty.
On Monday, the Los Angeles District Attorney also charged Weinstein with sexually assaulting two women in separate incidents, NBC News reports.
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