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Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer files motion to move trial out of NYC

Harvey Weinstein enters State Supreme Court in New York on Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

A lawyer for Harvey Weinstein has asked that the disgraced movie mogul’s upcoming criminal trial be moved out of New York City, saying he can’t get a fair trial.

In a long-shot motion filed with the New York State appellate court on Friday, attorney Arthur Aidala suggested the trial be moved to upstate Albany County or Suffolk County on Long Island.

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The motion cited the intense media coverage and circus-like atmosphere surrounding Weinstein’s past court appearances in Manhattan, even noting that Weinstein’s name was mentioned online on the New York Post’s gossip column Page Six more than 11,000 times.

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“It is safe to say that New York City is the least likely place on earth where Mr. Weinstein could receive a fair trial, where jurors could hear evidence, deliberate, and render a verdict in an atmosphere free of intimidation from pressure to deliver a result that the politicians, the activists, the celebrities and the media demand,” Aidala wrote.

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The court papers also argued that Manhattan is the epicentre of the global #MeToo movement, which took off after numerous women accused Weinstein of wrongdoing.

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“It is difficult to conceive of a similar case in recent memory that has generated more inflammatory press coverage,” Aidala wrote.

A message left with the Manhattan district attorney’s office was not immediately returned.

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The 67-year-old Weinstein is charged with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Weinstein is free on $1 million bail. The trial is scheduled to start Sept. 9.