UPDATE, with additional analysis The jury in the Harvey Weinstein trial might be deadlocked on two of the weightiest counts against the former producer: predatory sexual assaults involving actress Annabella Sciorra and at least one of two other women. Each count carries a possible life sentence.
Questions sent by the jury to Supreme Court Judge James Burke earlier this afternoon suggested a unanimous verdict might have been reached or be possible on assault and rape charges involving Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, respectively, but did not indicate in which direction.
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While the suggestion of deadlock might seem like cause for celebration for Team Weinstein, the situation is anything but simple or certain.
Theoretically, if the jurors agree that Weinstein is not guilty in the cases of Haley and Mann, it’s unclear how deliberations could move on to the two predatory charges – which involve Haley and/or Mann as essential components.
If, on the other hand, jurors have reached or might reach a consensus that Weinstein is guilty of crimes against Haley and/or Mann, they could then move on to the predatory counts involving Haley, Mann and Sciorra.
Deliberations ended for the weekend without a verdict on Friday.
As he exited the courtroom, Weinstein was asked by the daily phalanx of journalists in the hall whether he thought the unanimous verdicts indicated “guilty.” The former producer shrugged in a “Who knows?” manner.
Outside the courthouse, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents three of the accusers who testified (though she is not directly involved in this criminal trial) would not speculate on the jury’s leanings, telling Deadline that the trial, with its multiple accusers and criminal counts, is even more complicated for a jury than the Bill Cosby trial. The Cosby trial, she said, had “only one victim.”
About an hour earlier, Judge Burke summoned the jurors to the courtroom to answer the questions it had submitted from the jury room during the lunch break. The judge repeated his earlier instructions that all verdicts must be unanimous, and without unanimity, there is no verdict.
The judge then told jurors that it is “common to have difficulty reaching a verdict” and common to “believe you can never reach a verdict,” but he added that most juries eventually do come to a consensus. He sent the jurors back for further deliberations.
After today’s lunch break — but before the jury was called back to the courtroom — Judge Burke read to attorneys the note from the jurors asking if, legally, the jury could be “hung” on the two predatory sexual assault counts but unanimous on three other counts solely involving accusers Haley and Mann.
The judge consulted with attorneys from both sides on the wording of his answer, with one defense attorney asking that the jury be told a deadlock would necessitate a new trial and new jury. The judge did not accept the suggestion.
Weinstein is charged with five criminal counts, including two of predatory sexual assault – one involving accuser Haley and actress Sciorra, the other predatory count involving Sciorra and Mann. Although the statute of limitations has expired on Sciorra’s claim of rape in 1993-94, her testimony is permitted in conjunction with that of Haley and Mann to establish predatory behavior.
In addition to the predatory counts, which carry prison sentences of 10 years to life, Weinstein is charged with one count of criminal sexual assault (against Haley) and two counts of rape (one in the first degree, one in the third, both involving Mann). Those crimes carry possible prison sentences of five to 25 years.
The jurors’ lunchtime note to the judge suggests they might be in agreement — one way or the other — on the charges involving only Haley and Mann. That leaves Sciorra, who in some ways has been considered a linchpin throughout the trial, and indicates at least one juror is holding out for at least one of the predatory assault counts involving her.
Earlier today, the jury, as it has all week, seemed focused significantly on the former Sopranos actress, asking to hear a transcript of her Jan. 23 testimony that described the alleged rape and her interactions with Weinstein thereafter.
Haley, now 42, was a Project Runway production assistant in 2006 when, she says, Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Soho apartment on a July night in 2006. (That allegation resulted in the charge of criminal sexual assault in the first degree; Haley’s account of having sex with Weinstein later that month at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel, under duress but not physically forced, did not produce criminal charges.)
Mann, 34, a former actress, model and hairstylist, claimed Weinstein raped her on March 18, 2013, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, resulting in the counts of rape in the first degree and rape in the third degree. The jury can convict on only one of the two rape counts. – Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report
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