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Harvey Weinstein stumbles in bid for communications ahead of LA trial on rape charges

A California judge quashed some of the subpoenas by Weinstein's defense team but didn't rule on the ones that hadn't been fully served.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Former movie producer and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein wants to review years of communications, including exchanges with family and close friends, and documents of the women who he's accused of assaulting and raping ahead of an October trial in Los Angeles.

Alan Jackson, an attorney for Weinstein, argued at a hearing Monday that the requested information would be relevant to these women's state of mind at the time the alleged crimes occurred because it may shed light on their relationship with Weinstein and whether the encounters were consensual. Also, according to Jackson, if the victims didn't mention Weinstein's alleged wrongdoing to their friends around the time it was supposed to have occurred, that might be exculpatory.

"So, hypothetically, if a person is raped and doesn't tell her friend, that's exculpatory," California Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench rhetorically asked the lawyer.

Weinstein, 70, has already been convicted of assault and rape in New York and sentenced to 23 years in prison. That verdict was upheld on appeal two months ago. He's scheduled to go on trial in October in LA on charges he sexually assaulted five women in separate incidents between 2004 and 2014.

The disgraced movie producer attended the hearing, as has been his habit, seated in a wheelchair and dressed in LA County Jail garb.

Prosecutors DA's office asked the judge to quash the subpoenas Weinstein's lawyers had sent to the attorneys of three of the women, only identified as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, and Jane Doe 5, as well as the subpoena sent to a lawyer for Natassia M., another alleged victim of Weinstein who's expected to testify at trial but who's not among the women that Weinstein is charged with raping.

The judge declined the rule on the prosecution's request because it appeared that none of the subpoenas had been properly served in so far as the victims' attorneys had not accepted service.

"I don't have the right to order the defense not to serve a subpoena," Lench said. "If they are served, you can ask to quash."

The judge, however, did quash subpoenas served on the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments, per the prosecution's demand that Weinstein's lawyers should go through the DA for information about the investigation. The judge also quashed subpoenas served on associates of another alleged victim, Jane Doe 4, seeking 18 years worth of communications, because the requests were "overbroad" and sought private and confidential information.

In addition, Weinstein's team was prevented from seeking the treatment records for another witness, Ashley M., who's also an alleged victim of the former movie mogul, from an Arizona mental health facility.

If Weinstein's lawyers renew their efforts to serve subpoenas on his victims, they'll have to overcome Marsy's Law, a California law meant to protect victims from harassment by their assailant.

Although Jackson argued it would "absurd" that the defense couldn't seek any information from the alleged victims to prepare their case, leaving them to "fight in the dark," the judge pointed out that the law gives victims the right to refuse to be interviewed, deposed or comply with discovery requests by the defendant.

"It says what it says," Lench told the lawyer.

This year, the judge had — over the objections of Weinstein's defense — agreed that five women who claimed to have been assaulted by him would be allowed to testify at trial in addition to the five women he's charged with assaulting.

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