NEW YORK – Harvey Weinstein’s high-profile criminal defense lawyer is leaving the movie producer’s rape case weeks after failing to get the charges dismissed.
Benjamin Brafman filed court papers on Thursday asking to withdraw as Weinstein’s lawyer.
The filing came after a week of speculation about his involvement in the case.
Judge James Burke, who is overseeing the Weinstein case, must still approve the move.
Weinstein and Brafman said in a joint statement that their split was amicable. Weinstein said he will introduce his new legal team by early next week.
“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,” their statement said.
Brafman has advocated for Weinstein in and out of the courtroom.
He won a victory in October when prosecutors dropped part of the case after evidence surfaced that a police detective had coached a witness.
But he was disappointed last month when a judge rejected his push to throw out the rest of the case, which now involves five counts of sexual assault involving two accusers.
Weinstein’s trial is tentatively scheduled for May. The next pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 7.
The Daily Beast reported last week that Weinstein told reporters he was looking for new lawyers to “augment” the Brafman team, not to replace him.
Among elite New York criminal defense lawyers, Brafman stands out, admired by his peers and a fixture in the media thanks to some of his celebrity cases.
He defended rapper Sean Combs in 2001 on charges brought after a 1999 shooting in a Manhattan nightclub that injured three people. (Combs was acquitted.)
He defended International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on a sexual assault charge in 2011. (The case was dismissed before trial.)
And he defended Martin Shkreli, dubbed “Pharma Bro” by the tabloids, on federal fraud charges in 2017. (Shkreli was was convicted on three of eight counts, leading Brafman to call that a “very, very good result.”)
Contributing: Maria Puente USA TODAY
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