Harvey Weinstein indicted on sexual assault charges, extradition to LA delayed by paperwork dispute

Maria Puente, USA TODAY
·5 min read

Harvey Weinstein will remain in his New York prison for now, avoiding extradition to Los Angeles to face sex-crime charges, after his lawyer argued Monday that California prosecutors failed to provide proper legal paperwork required to meet extradition law.

New York Judge Kenneth Case delayed Weinstein's extradition hearing until April 30 to give Weinstein's New York lawyer, Norman Effman, time to file a petition setting out his argument for why Weinstein should not be extradited.

In court, Effman said the case against the Hollywood producer in Los Angeles has significantly changed, revealing that a Los Angeles County grand jury has returned a sealed indictment of Weinstein on the charges he faces.

While the indictment is similar to the original charges, there are slight differences, Effman told the court, and the documents he's received from prosecutors do not meet legal requirements.

More: Harvey Weinstein appeals 'unconstitutional' NY sex-crime conviction, requests new trial

In still frame taken from video, Harvey Weinstein, upper left, appears via video from prison before Erie County Judge Kenneth Case, top right, as his attorney, Norman Effman, lower left, speaks and Los Angeles based defense attorney Mark Werksman listens in, April 12, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y.
In still frame taken from video, Harvey Weinstein, upper left, appears via video from prison before Erie County Judge Kenneth Case, top right, as his attorney, Norman Effman, lower left, speaks and Los Angeles based defense attorney Mark Werksman listens in, April 12, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y.

Under California law, an indictment means there is no need for a time-consuming preliminary hearing in the case, Effman said, allowing prosecutors to take Weinstein to trial within 120 days as required under extradition law.

"I'm requesting a hearing before this court pursuant to a petition for habeas corpus alleging that (legal documents) in this case do not conform with the mandates of the interstate agreement on extradition," Effman said.

The judge's decision to delay the extradition proceeding again came after another virtual hearing during which the fallen movie mogul appeared from his New York prison where he is serving a 23-year sentence for his conviction in February 2020 on similar sex crimes in Manhattan.

More: Harvey Weinstein's California extradition hearing postponed until April; former mogul to stay in New York prison

Weinstein, 69, faces 11 felony counts of sexual assault, including forcible rape, against five women in encounters at Beverly Hills hotels dating back to 2004.

He has denied all charges and continues to deny two charges on which he was convicted in New York, first-degree sexual assault and third-degree rape.

Last week, Weinstein filed an appeal of the conviction, arguing his trial was "unconstitutional" because he was denied a "fair and impartial jury."

During Monday's hearing, Erie County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gamble, who stood in for Los Angeles prosecutors, said she was "surprised" by Effman's argument, arguing that "time is of the essence" in the case — at least for the accusers.

What's changed?: Harvey Weinstein has been behind bars for a year

Later, at a press conference, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn chastised Effman for saying the words "sealed indictment" in open court, calling that "improper." He added, "New charging documents is what I would call it."

Flynn accused Effman of "sandbagging" Curtin Gamble, since he had nearly five hours to warn her he planned to raise the paperwork issue at the hearing. He called it another "delaying tactic" on Weinstein's part.

"So now we'll have a hearing to flesh this out and argue why the paperwork is messed up and I anticipate L.A. County will give me new paperwork that is correct, and it will be a moot point on April 30," Flynn told reporters.

Effman noted that Weinstein is "not going anywhere," and even if extradition had been granted Tuesday, he would still have 30 days, under New York law, to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to consider blocking it.

Moreover, he said Weinstein suffers from a variety of medical issues – including diabetes, sleep apnea, heart problems and back problems – and is taking multiple medications. He said Weinstein is "nearly blind" and is scheduled for two surgical procedures dealing with his eyes and teeth.

Harvey Weinstein talks to reporters as he arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for his rape trial in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.
Harvey Weinstein talks to reporters as he arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for his rape trial in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.

Effman said his attempts to negotiate with Los Angeles prosecutors to delay extradition until June, because of Weinstein's medical issues, had "failed." So, he said, he turned to one of the other reasons an extradition can be held up: a flaw in the paperwork.

"On the basic human nature of this case, it seems disruptive to undo what New York has accomplished in taking care of someone in their custody," Effman said. "We’re not trying to avoid what's going to happen in California; we believe there is not only a defense but a very good defense to these charges, which will result in acquittal."

The Weinstein extradition case has been delayed three times, mostly due to the pandemic, since Weinstein entered the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo in Erie County. His lawyers have argued his health is too compromised to travel during the pandemic.

The pandemic in Southern California has been especially punishing, leading to strict COVID-19 protocols and a backup of criminal and civil cases in the largest court system in the nation.

Weinstein was charged in a felony complaint by then-Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey with five felony sex crimes involving two women on the first day of his New York trial in January 2020. In October, more charges were added in Los Angeles, for a total of 11.

Weinstein, wearing a burgundy polo shirt, did not say anything during the hearing. But before it began, he appeared on the video and began talking to his Los Angeles-based lawyer, Mark Werksman, praising him for the "strong statement" he made after news reports came out about the sealed indictment over the weekend.

Werksman dismissed the indictment as stemming from “stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement. We’re confident that Mr. Weinstein will be acquitted because there’s no credible evidence against him,” he said.

Werksman did not participate in the hearing but monitored it from Los Angeles.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harvey Weinstein extradition delayed again in LA sex-crime charges