After the judge in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial in New York admonished the disgraced movie mogul and his legal team Tuesday over Weinstein’s alleged use of a cellphone in court, his lawyers now want the judge to recuse himself from the case, according to media reports.
Weinstein’s attorneys filed a letter Wednesday seeking the recusal.
“The letter motion from Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala says comments made Tuesday in open court by New York County Judge James Burke were ‘prejudicial and inflammatory,'” CNN reports.
Aidala’s letter references a moment in Tuesday’s clash in court when Burke asked, “Mr. Weinstein, I could not implore you more to not answer the following question: Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?”
CNN notes that Weinstein is being tried for allegedly raping a woman in 2013 and sexually assaulting another woman in 2006.
“At the beginning of court proceedings Tuesday, Burke raised his voice and reprimanded Weinstein and his defense team for his use of his cellphones,” CNN notes.
The report quotes Aidala’s letter stating: “These comments reflect the Court’s animus towards the Defendant and have created a situation in which the Court’s ‘impartiality might reasonably by questioned,’ in violation of New York State’s Rules of Judicial Conduct.”
The letter further states: “Either the Court was suggesting that an appropriate sanction for use of a cell phone in court was life in prison, or the Court was suggesting that Mr. Weinstein is guilty, would surely be convicted, and that the Court already knew that it intended to sentence him to life in prison.”
CNN adds: “Burke said Tuesday this was an ‘ongoing issue’ and referenced warnings at previous hearings. He said he warned Aidala explicitly in ‘somewhat unrefined terms’ about Weinstein’s cellphone. Finally, he said that if Weinstein uses his cellphone in court one more time, he will be taken into custody.”