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Harvey Weinstein hires famous lawyer in attempt to overturn his prison sentence for rape

By Sarah May
|
May 2, 2023

In an attempt to have his California rape conviction overturned, beleaguered former film mogul Harvey Weinstein has retained the services of the same lawyer who succeeded in getting Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction tossed back in 2021, as the Daily Mail reports.

Weinstein, 71, is now a client of Jennifer Bonjean, who will endeavor to secure a reversal of last year's conviction, for which the disgraced Hollywood power broker was sentenced to 16 years in prison, as CBS News noted at the time.

Convicted in L.A., New York

As the New York Times reported back in December, Weinstein was found guilty of rape following a month-long trial and nine days of jury deliberations.

The conduct for which he was convicted occurred at a Beverly Hills hotel back in 2013, and though the jury did not render a guilty finding on counts pertaining to three other accusers in the case, the outcome and subsequent sentence almost certainly ensured that Weinstein would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Weinstein's age, combined with the fact that at the time of his conviction in California, he was only two years into a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York, is a virtual guarantee that he will never walk free again, as the Associated Press has explained.

Appeals are currently being pursued in the New York case, and with Weinstein's hiring of Bonjean to do the same in California, it appears that he remains unwilling to accept without a protracted battle the fate many assume he now faces.

Seasoned Attorney on the Case

Bonjean is no stranger to representing noteworthy public figures accused of sexual misconduct, as evidenced by her aforementioned successful efforts on behalf of Cosby.

The attorney has also reportedly represented R&B singer R. Kelly, not to mention NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere, according to the Mail, further solidifying her bona fides in this particular practice area.

Weinstein's well-known new legal counsel is said to have the words “not guilty” tattooed on her arm, and it appears that the man whose antics in large part sparked the #MeToo movement has put his faith in her reputed talents as he fights what could be an uphill battle to regain his freedom.

Despite those long odds, Weinstein has continued to profess his innocence, declaring after the L.A. verdict, it is incredible to be convicted for a crime I wasn't even present for. I am innocent. I never raped or assaulted anyone.”

Consecutive Sentencing and Long Odds

Though it was announced in March that Los Angeles County prosecutors would not attempt to retry Weinstein on the sexual assault counts included in last year's trial for which the jury could not reach a verdict, that fact was perhaps cold comfort given the lengthy terms of incarceration he is already facing.

New York's highest court has, however, agreed to hear Weinstein's appeal, but if he does not prevail there, he is unlikely to ever walk free again, even if Bonjean succeeds in California.

Weinstein's California sentence is not set to begin until he is either freed in New York or has completed his prison term pursuant to requirements there.

Given that he is not eligible for parole in the Empire State until 2039, adding another 16-year term would take Weinstein well past centenarian status, which, given his well-documented heath issues, makes the prospect of freedom exceedingly unlikely unless all of his legal stars happen to align.

Bonjean Begins

According to Variety, Weinstein's new attorney is girded for battle in the L.A. case, with a spokesman for the convicted felon saying in a statement, “The Bonjean Law Group and Jennifer Bonjean herself understand the issues facing Harvey and knows what is needed; not simply the law, but the environment in which we exist now.”

“With this team, Harvey's appeal in L.A. will be made in a way that not only demonstrates errors in applications of law and possible bias in meting out so-called justice but will also expose how the proverbial deck was stacked in advance against Weinstein,” the statement continued.

Weinstein's representative added, “In addition to the criminal appeal, the firm will bring the facts together in answers to the civil suit filed by a witness whom Harvey insists was never with him in the hotel or anywhere.”

Whether any of these longshot attempts at vindication have a real chance of success in bringing redemption – or at least physical freedom – to Weinstein, only time will tell.