NEW YORK – Lawyers for more than a dozen other media outlets, including the New York Daily News, will ask a Manhattan judge to keep open a court proceeding against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Prosecutors and Weinstein's lawyers contend that a scheduled Friday hearing should be closed to protect Weinstein's right to a fair trial and safeguard the privacy of women who have accused him of sexual assault.
Weinstein's lawyers say news coverage could taint the jury pool.
But a lawyer for the news organizations, Robert Balin, said holding the hearing behind closed doors does nothing to protect Weinstein or his accusers because the allegations have already been widely reported.
More than 80 women, including actresses Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, harassment or other misconduct.
"Clearly, there is no rational basis — let alone 'compelling circumstances' — that could justify the Parties' effort to suppress this information now that it is in the public domain as a result of widespread news reporting," Balin wrote in a court filing.
Balin wrote that closing the courtroom is an "extreme remedy."
Weinstein is charged with raping a woman he knew in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail. His trial is scheduled to begin June 3.
Judge James Burke said he would hear arguments from the news organizations' lawyers before the start of Friday's hearing. The lawyers, in their filing, asked to be heard sooner so that they may appeal if he rules against them.
The news organizations are also requesting that documents filed under seal in the case be made public and that all future filings, even ones made under seal, be listed on the case docket so that "the press and public receive prompt notice that such materials exist."