Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Adam Reiss
Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer wants to quit the case, a source with direct knowledge told NBC News on Monday, which could delay the disgraced movie mogul’s rape trial.
Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman would need Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke’s approval to leave the case, which is now set for trial on May 6.
Brafman was not expected to file those papers on Monday, but he has no intention of representing Weinstein any further, sources said. It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the split, but reports recently surfaced indicating the two had been fighting.
Juda Engelmayer, a spokesman for Weinstein, on Monday declined to say whether Brafman was quitting. But he said Weinstein has recently been meeting with attorneys to build a team with expertise on various aspects of the upcoming trial.
Weinstein is charged with raping an unidentified woman inside a hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on another woman in 2006. The movie producer, who remains free on $1 million bail, has steadfastly denied all allegations of forcing non-consensual sex on the accusers.
A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance declined to comment on Monday.
Brafman oversaw one of the six charges against his client being dismissed.
The next scheduled pre-trial hearing is set for March 7.
Brafman is no stranger to high-profile cases. He represented former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn against allegations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York in 2011.
Charges were later dismissed after Manhattan prosecutors said they were not confident they could win a conviction in court.
Brafman also helped win an acquittal for Sean “Diddy” Combs in his weapons possession case in 2001 and represented Michael Jackson for three months in early 2004 before the late pop icon replaced him with Tom Mesereau, who won an acquittal for the singer against child molestation charges in California.
Adam Reiss is a reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC.
David K. Li contributed.