Harvey Weinstein’s high-profile lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he’s withdrawing from the case.
The New York Post on Tuesday quoted Brafman as saying that he would depart from the case, in light of a new Esquire profile in which he reportedly said, “In terms of the timing, it is somewhat ironic that it appears online now when some of it deals with the Harvey Weinstein case, which I’m withdrawing from.”
Vulture confirmed that Brafman’s statement about withdrawing from Weinstein’s case was accurate.
In the Esquire piece, Brafman conceded that the former Hollywood honcho often seeks second opinions on legal matters.
“He’s a nice guy, sometimes. I can say to him, ‘You can’t tell me to go to hell, because you need me,’” Brafman reportedly told the magazine. “I take the abuse better than most.”
Unconfirmed rumors of discord between Weinstein and Brafman have been circulating for about one week, however, with reports Monday claiming that the storied attorney was out.
Esquire said in a note that it decided to post its profile of Brafman online early given the speculation.
“Editor’s Note: On Monday, January 14, shortly after this story went to press, the New York Post reported that Weinstein and Brafman may be parting ways due to disagreements over the direction of the case. In light of these developments, we’re offering it online now. The story will also appear in the March ’19 issue of Esquire,” the note explained.
Brafman would have to make a formal request to withdraw as Weinstein’s lawyer, and the judge overseeing his case would have to approve his departure, to officially leave.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
Brafman, whose clientele has also included ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, has repped Weinstein from the early stages of the New York Police Department’s investigation of sexual-misconduct allegations, and subsequent prosecution.
Brafman did land a legal victory in the months following Weinstein’s arrest.
Weinstein had stood accused of nonconsensual encounters with three women, Lucia Evans, Mimi Haleyi, and an unnamed third woman, in the Manhattan criminal case, but a judge agreed to toss the count related to Evans.
Evans had alleged that Weinstein forced her into oral sex during the summer of 2004.
Court proceedings in October revealed that one witness had told the former lead detective that Evans “performed oral sex” on Weinstein after he said he’d throw acting work her way. That detective, Nicholas DiGaudio, didn’t pass along that information to prosecutors, according to court proceedings.
And while Brafman had repeatedly tried, filing motion after motion with sometimes surprising linguistic flourish, he failed to get the entire indictment dismissed on the grounds of alleged police misconduct.
A court filing in several of the many civil cases against Weinstein claimed that a trial date was scheduled for May 6.
A spokesperson for the New York State Court system, however, said at the time that “an early May trial date has been discussed, however it is tentative and unofficial.”
While court dates are routinely pushed back and rescheduled, a total overhaul of Weinstein’s defense team could delay the proceedings even more.
Update January 17: In a joint statement published Thursday, Weinstein and Brafman said they “have agreed to part ways.” You can read the full statement below.
Harvey Weinstein and his Criminal Defense Lawyer Benjamin Brafman have agreed to part ways and Mr. Weinstein has authorized Mr. Brafman to formally notify Judge Burke of his decision to withdraw as counsel for Mr. Weinstein in connection with all legal matters currently pending.
Both parties have agreed to part ways amicably and Mr. Brafman has agreed to cooperate fully with new counsel for Mr. Weinstein so as to ensure an orderly transition.
Mr. Weinstein praised Mr. Brafman for his legal work to date and Mr. Brafman reiterated his belief that Mr. Weinstein would be exonerated of the charges that have been filed against him and Brafman personally wished Mr. Weinstein the best of luck as he defends the case and the accusations that Mr. Weinstein has vehemently denied.
Mr. Weinstein intends to introduce his new legal team by early next week.