On the second day of jury selection in Harvey Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial, the former movie producer was wheeled into the courtroom, having changed from his jail attire into a suit. “Hi everyone,” he said, greeting jurors from the defense table, where he had climbed into a seat from his wheelchair.
But before Weinstein faced a group of 71 potential jurors in his rape and sexual assault trial, his attorneys had another issue to raise with the court: the “unsanitary” and “fetid” conditions of Weinstein’s holding cell.
“It’s almost medieval, the conditions. I’m concerned about his health and his ability to survive this ordeal,” one of Weinstein’s lawyers, Mark Werksman, told Judge Lisa B. Lench. “I’m worried about him surviving this ordeal without a heart attack or stroke.”
“I hate to use the word special treatment,” Werksman continued. “He’s a 70-year-old man with health issues.”
Weinstein’s attorney suggested that his client does not have access to a toilet in the holding cell.
“He’s not deprived of a toilet. There is a toilet in the cell,” the judge shot back. “I’m not going to let the record reflect that he’s deprived of a toilet. I’m not going to let the record look like he didn’t have access to a toilet.”
“It is unhygienic, it is virtually unusable, it is medieval,” Werksman responded, stating that he did not intend to suggest there was no toilet available.
Weinstein’s attorney submitted four doctor’s notes to the court and told the judge that when his client leaves the courtroom each day, he is taken to a holding cell, where he is left alone in his wheelchair for a few hours before being transported back to jail. The judge said she would talk to the deputies about Weinstein’s situation, but explained that there is not an excess of wheelchair vans available to pick him up after trial concludes for the day. “I’m not minimizing it, I’m just not sure there’s a lot to be done,” Judge Lench said.
Weinstein’s health has been an issue repeatedly raised by his attorneys — not just during this current trial, but also throughout his New York trial, where he entered the courtroom with a walker each day. After the jury found him guilty of rape and sexual assault during that trial in 2020, Weinstein was taken to a hospital for chest pains and to undergo a heart procedure, instead of being transported directly to prison.
Weinstein’s defense team has said he suffers from cardiac issues, diabetes, sleep apnea and eye problems. His attorneys have previously described him as “technically blind” and he recently begged the judge to allow him to visit a private dentist because his teeth are rotting in jail.
The third day of jury selection will continue on Wednesday, and the process is expected to span two weeks, with opening statements slated for Oct. 24.
This trial marks Weinstein’s second rape and sexual assault trial, following his 2020 conviction and 23-year sentencing. Should he be convicted again in this trial, which is based on 11 new charges stemming from five women, he will effectively never walk free again.