Judge James Burke announced the delay following a closed-door hearing, at which prosecutors sought to convince the judge that women be allowed to testify who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, but whose claims have not led to criminal charges.
Weinstein’s trial had been scheduled to begin June 3, but both sides indicated they need more time to sort through witness and evidence issues. Jury selection is expected to take up to two weeks, with testimony lasting about a month.
“We had a very good day in court today. We’re glad that the trial got back to September,” Weinstein attorney Jose Baez told reporters. “This is going to give us an ample opportunity to dig into the case.”
Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping an unidentified female acquaintance in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. He has denied all allegations of wrongdoing. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail.
Weinstein himself was mum as he came and went from court Friday. Asked how he was doing, he just nodded.
Burke said closing the courtroom for the hearing was “the only means available to avoid the tainting of the jury pool” because the proceeding dealt with material that “is prejudicial to the defendant and is highly inflammatory.”
News coverage, he said, would serve no purpose other than to stir negative public sentiment toward Weinstein
Lawyers for news organizations, including The Associated Press, argued that the prosecution and defense arguments didn’t meet the high legal standard for banning the media and the public.
Weinstein’s case is “a matter of immense and legitimate public interest,” and the allegations against him are already widely known, said Robert Balin, a lawyer for the news organizations.
Prosecutors said it was necessary to close the courtroom, both to protect Weinstein’s right to a fair trial and to shield the identities of accusers whose names and allegations were expected to come up during the hearing.
Weinstein lawyer Marianne Bertuna argued that news coverage could influence potential jurors and that “the court cannot be complicit with the press in denying the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
Balin said that the allegations against Weinstein from more than 80 women have already been widely reported and that many of them, such as actresses Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, have agreed to be identified publicly. But not all have, Illuzzi-Orbon said.
An appellate judge denied a request by the media outlets to immediately halt the proceeding but granted an expedited appeal and ordered parties to file briefs by Wednesday. The news organizations want access to a transcript of the hearing and to related documents that were filed under seal.
Fox News’ Lissa Kaplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.