Legal Ethics

Two of Harvey Weinstein’s new lawyers once represented one of his accusers in criminal case

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Harvey Weinstein/Dennis Makarenko (

Two new lawyers defending movie producer Harvey Weinstein against sexual assault charges once represented one of his accusers in a drug possession case.

The lawyers, Jose Baez and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., are part a new four-person legal team announced Wednesday, report the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Daily Beast and Rolling Stone.

Both lawyers also represented actress Rose McGowan, who claims Weinstein assaulted her in 1997. The charges against Weinstein are not based on McGowan’s accusation.

Baez and Sullivan are among three lawyers on the team who have represented high-profile clients. Baez and Sullivan won an acquittal for former football player Aaron Hernandez, who died by suicide in prison in April 2017. Baez represented Casey Anthony, who was acquitted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter.

Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor, told the New York Times he didn’t think his representation of Weinstein is a conflict of interest because the case is unrelated to McGowan’s. “We are certain no conflict of interest exists,” he said.

Bruce Green, a legal expert and professor at the Fordham University School of Law, agreed with that assessment. He told the Times that Baez and Sullivan’s work on McGowan’s case would pose a conflict only if she was called to testify as a witness in Weinstein’s case.

McGowan disagreed, however. She told the Times that the representation is “an egregious conflict of interest,” and that Baez is still listed as the lawyer in her case.

“I asked Jose Baez directly if he would ever work with Harvey, and I told him it was my fear that he would be bought off while representing me,” McGowan told the Daily Beast. “He responded by saying, ‘I don’t like to lose.’ ”

McGowan pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drug charge earlier this month and received no jail time, according to the Daily Beast. A lawyer who represented McGowan before she hired Baez and Sullivan, Jessica Carmichael, had suggested that the cocaine found in McGowan’s wallet could have been planted by someone working for Weinstein, according to and Rolling Stone.

The wallet had been left behind on a plane. Carmichael never provided evidence to back up her suggestion.

Also on Weinstein’s legal team are basketball player Kobe Bryant’s former lawyer, Pamela Robillard Mackey, and former New York City prosecutor Duncan Levin. Bryant’s rape case never went to trial because the accuser did not want to testify.

Weinstein was formerly represented by New York City defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman. They both said in a statement last week that they “agreed to part ways amicably.”

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