Harvey Weinstein and his defense lawyer agree to part ways
Prominent New York defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman will no longer represent Harvey Weinstein in his criminal sexual assault case, the two said in a joint statement Thursday.
The men agreed to “part ways amicably,” the statement said. Brafman notified Judge James Burke of his withdrawal in a letter Thursday.
Brafman has agreed to cooperate with Weinstein’s new lawyer to ensure “an orderly transition.”
Weinstein plans to announce his new legal team by early next week, the statement continued.
“Mr. Weinstein praised Mr. Brafman for his legal work to date and Mr. Brafman reiterated his belief that Mr. Weinstein would be exonerated of the charges that have been filed against him,” according to the statement.
“Brafman personally wished Mr. Weinstein the best of luck as he defends the case and the accusations that Mr. Weinstein has vehemently denied.”
The news comes one day after a source familiar with the situation told CNN that Brafman planned to withdraw from representing the former producer.
Weinstein is accused of raping a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
He faces five felony charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty.
The case hasn’t been completely smooth for either side.
In October, one of Weinstein’s six felony charges was dismissed after an NYPD officer was found to have mishandled evidence. Weinstein’s petition to dismiss the remaining charges was declined in December.
Brafman’s past clients include Martin Shkreli, Plaxico Burress, Sean Combs and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
In a series of interviews for a profile by Esquire, published Monday, Brafman spoke about representing Weinstein.
“I’ve spent 40 years trying to get to the top of my profession, and this is the most high-profile case in the United States,” Brafman said. “It’s flattering to be picked by someone like him.”
Brafman also addressed how the #MeToo movement has impacted Weinstein’s high-profile case and others.
“One day it’s Charlie Rose. Then it’s Kevin Spacey. Matt Lauer. Les Moonves. Suddenly they have something about Judge Kavanaugh from when he was in high school? Give me a break,” Brafman told the magazine. “I have a daughter; I have granddaughters. I’d like them to not have to deal with harassment, discrimination, and an unequal pay scale. But a movement becomes dangerous when it generates the kind of hatred that keeps a person from getting a fair trial.”
When speaking to CNN in August, Brafman said it would be “difficult but not impossible” to seat an impartial jury in Weinstein’s trial.