Harvey Weinstein wants the judge removed from his trial.
The 67-year-old disgraced producer has been in court this week ahead of his trial in Manhattan on five counts pertaining to sexual assault - including two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape and one count of criminal sex act - and on Wednesday (08.01.20), his legal team asked Judge James Burke to recuse himself over remarks he had made the day before when he threatened to jail the movie mogul for texting in the courtroom.
As jury selection was underway, the justice had said: "Mr. Weinstein, I could not implore you more to not answer the following question: is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order? Is it?"
Weinstein's team branded the comments "prejudicial and inflammatory" and argued the rebuke reflected the "court's animus" toward their client.
A letter submitted by the lawyers said: "These comments reflect the Court's animus towards the Defendant and have created a situation in which the Court's 'impartiality might reasonably by questioned,' in violation of New York State's Rules of Judicial Conduct.
"Either the Court was suggesting that an appropriate sanction for use of a cell phone in court was life in prison, or the Court was suggesting that Mr. Weinstein is guilty, would surely be convicted, and that the Court already knew that it intended to sentence him to life in prison."
Weinstein's team have also argued the judge has failed to adequately safeguard the producer's right to an impartial jury, partly by rejecting their request to halt the selection process for a "cooling off" period after new charges were filed against their client in Los Angeles.
They have demanded the trial be stopped until negative publicity from the new allegations dies down.
The judge is expected to address the motion on Thursday (09.01.20).
Weinstein has denied all allegations against him.