Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz has joined Harvey Weinstein's legal defense team to consult on constitutional issues, according to a Feb. 15 court filing.
Dershowitz was granted permission to consult for Weinstein’s defense team on a pro hac vice basis, which allows lawyers to participate in a case outside of their legal jurisdiction so long as they can provide a certificate of good standing for the areas in which they are licensed to practice.
The suit Dershowitz is involved in is a class action lawsuit against Weinstein’s former production companies the Weinstein Company and Miramax; the Walt Disney Company; and Weinstein himself, among others. The lawsuit alleges that Weinstein violated federal sex trafficking laws. The former film producer faces separate criminal charges of sexual assault from two women in a Manhattan case that stem from accusations that he raped one woman and forcibly performed oral sex on another.
Winthrop House Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., also a Harvard Law School professor, joined Weinstein’s legal team in the criminal case last month, drawing backlash from students and calls for him to step down from his faculty deanship.
The filings, first mentioned by New York Daily News reporter Stephen Brown on Twitter, indicate Dershowitz will be consulting on some email exchanges relevant to the case.
“I was retained by Defendant Harvey Weinstein’s counsel to consult with them regarding constitutional issues concerning certain e-mail correspondence,” Dershowitz’s court filings read.
Dershowitz said in an interview that the defense counsel retained him in an official capacity after plaintiffs in the case moved to block Weinstein from releasing certain email correspondence between him and his accusers.
“Weinstein has not hired me. I was retained by his original lawyer, Ben Brafman, to consult with Brafman on the constitutional issue around the case,” Dershowitz said. “It is an issue I have litigated in a number of contexts and one I feel very strongly about; and that is that he should be getting all the tapes, all the information, and then let the judge, the jury, the public decide.”
Dershowitz said he is working for Weinstein’s defense team because he believes in providing due process regardless of who is being accused of a crime.
“I am a criminal defense lawyer. My role is to help to anybody who is charged with a crime no matter how serious, no matter how heinous, no matter how unpopular,” Dershowitz said. “I have represented O. J. Simpson, Mike Milken, Anatoly Shcharansky, Bill Clinton. Of course I am going to accept a role in helping to provide due process and constitutional protections to anyone charged with a crime.”
Dershowitz also defended Sullivan’s decision to represent Weinstein in the Manhattan criminal proceedings. He said Sullivan was “doing the right thing” and that the students protesting “should be ashamed of themselves.”
“They should go back and read the Constitution, and be ashamed of themselves,” Dershowitz said. “The one thing I will never, ever be pressured by students.”
Following Sullivan’s decision to join Weinstein’s legal team, Sullivan sent an email to students addressing criticisms of his participation in the case. Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay said in an interview that the way Sullivan handled student concerns was “insufficient.”
—Staff writer Connor W. K. Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ConnorWKBrown.