Prosecutors said Tuesday there’s no conflict of interest involving Harvey Weinstein‘s attorney in light of recent allegations about his law firm’s “deceptive” practices.
Top prosecutor Joan Illuzzi and Weinstein attorney Benjamin Brafman hashed out the legal issue at the disgraced movie mogul’s arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court.
“The tabloids have created an issue that does not exist,” Brafman told Judge James Burke.
In a Manhattan federal lawsuit filed Friday, Weinstein rape accuser Melissa Thompson said she’d turned over key evidence to Brafman’s former associate Alex Spiro – before learning his firm Brafman & Associates was representing Weinstein.
In court, Brafman reiterated that there was no potential of a conflict of interest because he never met Thompson and only became “aware of her existence several days ago.”
He said Spiro — who resigned from Brafman & Associates in September but still had access to his company email — met with the woman only after leaving the law firm.
“I had zero knowledge that he was using my email to communicate with anyone who might possibly be a victim of Mr. Weinstein,” Brafman explained. “Mr. Spiro has acknowledged that he never had anything to do with Mr. Weinstein.”
He added, “I can’t control what the tabloids write, I can’t control what an ex-associate does and I can’t control what’s filed in the Southern District of New York.”
But if she is called as a witness, Brafman would be barred from cross-examining Thompson about her communications with Spiro.
“I never had, never would attempt to discourage any person who contacts me from cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office,” he said. “I have practiced with the highest integrity for over 40 years.”
Illuzzi, the top prosecutor handling Weinstein’s criminal case, agreed there was no issue at hand and said the emails between Thompson and Spiro would be protected under attorney-client privilege.
“We accept Mr. Brafman’s representation,” she said. “We believe that Ms. Thompson, if she were ever to be part of this matter … would have a right to have a conflict-free cross-examination.”
Spiro now works for the firm Quinn Emanuel.
Harvey Weinstein leaves court
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