Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been threatened with jail for using his phone in a New York City court where a jury is being picked for his rape trial.
Judge James Burke asked him: “Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting and violating a court order?”
The judge instructed Harvey Weinstein, who is out on bail, not to answer the question.
He faces five charges and possibly life in jail if convicted.
The allegations include rape and assault relating to two unnamed accusers. He is charged with raping one woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013, and performing a forcible sex act on the second woman in 2006.
On January 6, Harvey Weinstein was charged with an additional two counts in Los Angeles: rape and assault.
He has denied all charges and insists any encounters were consensual.
According to local media, on January 7, Harvey Weinstein, 67, was caught using two mobile phones in court. He had already been admonished by Judge Burke at previous court appearances for using a handset.
Judge Burke said: “What did I say would happen if he so much has a cellphone or electronic device since there have been repeated violations of this, including some on the record?”
“I believe you said remand,” Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer replied after a heated exchange, meaning to put his client in jail.
Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi urged Judge Burke to jail Harvey Weinstein, who is out on $5 million bail. He is required to wear an electronic tracking device.
“There is a grave risk that this defendant at some point will realize that the evidence against him is imposing and overwhelming” and he will try to escape, Joan Illuzzi said.
Judge Burke ultimately declined to revoke Harvey Weinstein’s bail, but told the former movie mogul he would not get any further warning.
“I’m not looking for apologies,” Judge Burke said.
“I’m looking for compliance.”
In court, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, asked Judge Burke to delay jury selection, arguing that the jury pool had been tarnished by the extensive press coverage of the Los Angeles charges filed on January 6.
Judge Burke rejected the defense request.
After jury selection, Harvey Weinstein’s New York trial is expected to begin in around two weeks.