Harvey Weinstein On Trial: Observations From an Insider

By Cali Carss

On Monday January 27th, I walked into the courtroom across the hall from my mother’s office into one of the biggest cases in the country currently. Harvey Weinstein, movie mogul and former studio head, is on trial for rape and sexual assault crimes committed in New York (and will later go on to trial in LA). My mother, Meghan Hast, is a prosecutor and works mainly on homicides. She is deputy head of her department and credible in the courtroom. She was chosen to be the second chair prosecutor on the Weinstein case alongside respected prosecutor Joan Illuzi, who is first chair. It is because of this that on that Monday I was able to watch Miriam Haley take the stand and tell her story. 

Ms. Haley is a former TV producer and currently resides in England. In her 20s and early 30s she worked for a well known producer named Micheal White. It was through him, at a movie premiere, that she met Harvey Weinstein. This was the beginning of a long, tragic story told by Haley during her groundbreaking testimony, where she went over every detail and scenario that connected her to the defendant. The experience of watching this was very unique. It’s hard to not believe her when her story seems so painful. I watched my mom ask Ms. Haley questions about nearly everything that linked her to the defendant. This case was most definitely unique to observe and it was clear that the story being told was central and important. The side of the room opposite to me looked to be entirely reporters. They clung onto every question and response, every single one of them with a notebook or computer on their lap. That was when the gravity of the case hit me. This moment was larger than just the case itself, in fact, it would be seen by many as  the first step towards the #MeToo movement’s goals being accomplished.

I was also able to watch a bit of Mr. Cheronis’ cross-examination of Ms. Haley. I personally found the difference in styles from my mom to him fascinating. They asked very similar questions, yet their approaches seemed entirely different. The defense, as should be expected, was more confrontational while crossing Ms Haley; though still interesting to watch. I should have expected the ddefense to be less gentle than the prosecution, seeing as this was not their witness. Both approaches make a lot of sense and I believe did what they were meant to do. The Weinstein case is one that is good to look at from different angles and watching both the prosecution and the defense question the same witness is the perfect way to do that. I got to see both sides of the case from their questions. It makes each team’s objective clearer, which is nice to know when reading about the case.

Now, the case has come to a close and Harvey Weinstein has been  found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison. This conviction was a huge victory for Weinstein’s victims and the #MeToo movement as a whole. For them, this is the first domino to fall on their way to justice. He’s a huge one to get out of the way too. Watching this whole case play out was very inspiring to me because it showed me that these women were finally getting peace  and confirmation that their trauma was real. I was incredibly happy that the jury believed the women who told their stories, because that seems to always be a worry with sexual assault cases. It’s good to know that these women were heard and believed. This victory also compliments the credibility of the #MeToo movement. To me, this case was proof that women can band together and make something truly amazing happen, especially when it matters most.