Disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has sued to recover $ 1 million in legal fees from his criminal defense attorney, who dropped him after six months.
Weinstein, who was convicted of sexual assault and rape in February 2020, claimed in a complaint from the Manhattan state court on Tuesday that his former attorney Jose Baez had messed up their original contract and billing for the legal work he performed.
This, Weinstein claims in his complaint, violates the professional code of conduct and New York law, with Baez allegedly refusing to refund the fees.
Weinstein said in his lawsuit that in January 2019 he agreed to pay Baez $ 2 million to cover trial and follow-up proceedings in his criminal case.
The contract agreement reportedly required monthly payments of $ 200,000 for “work on a fee-for-service basis.”
Baez was paid $ 1 million under the agreement, the complaint says, but Weinstein now alleges that the agreement contained an “ illegal and misleading non-refundable commission clause ” and other violations of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.
Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein (right) has filed suit to recover $ 1 million in legal fees from his criminal defense attorney Jose Baez (center), who dropped him after six months. The lawsuit says Baez has delegated most of the work to Weinstein’s other attorney, Harvard University law professor Ronald Sullivan (photo left)
The lawsuit says Baez has delegated most of the work to Weinstein’s other attorney, Harvard University law professor Ronald Sullivan.
After Sullivan pulled out in May 2019 following a protest at Harvard, Baez reportedly threatened to quit unless Weinstein immediately paid him an additional $ 1 million, in violation of the terms of the agreement.
Baez asked the court to cancel leave a month later.
In a letter to Judge James Burke of the Manhattan Supreme Court obtained by The New York Post, Baez wrote that “ Mr. Weinstein has exhibited behaviors that make this representation unreasonably difficult to perform effectively and has insisted on taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements. ‘
Weinstein claims that Baez never provided him with invoices until October 2020.
Baez’s colleague, Michelle Medina, reportedly created a spreadsheet with accounting records of the company’s work that was fraught with problems, such as being vague and ambiguous, and “ clearly intended to repay Weinstein’s $ 1,000,000.00 to withhold payment unlawfully. ‘
Weinstein alleged that the defendants did not refund him or respond to his objections about the way he was billed. The complaint alleges, among other things, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud.
Jospeh Tacopina, a New York attorney representing Baez, Medina and their firm, denounced Weinstein’s claims as “ bold lies ” in a statement.
“Harvey Weinstein’s lawsuit against Jose Baez and his firm is nothing more than yet another predatory act by a nasty devil, who has absolutely no credibility,” Tacopina said.
Tacopina is the senior partner and lead trial attorney at Tacopina Seigel Trial Lawyers, and has included Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder, rapper Jay Z and Fox News’ Sean Hannity among clients.
Gary Kavulich of Kavulich & Associates, who represents Weinstein, said he was “entitled to a fair and legal treatment from his own attorneys and that’s all he wanted here.”
Baez is known for previously representing Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in a high-profile criminal case in 2011.
He also represented former NFL player and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of Odin Lloyd’s murder in 2013.
Baez (left) is known for previously representing Casey Anthony (center), who was found not guilty in 2011 of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in a high-profile criminal case.
Baez (left) also represented former NFL player and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez (center), who was convicted in 2013 of the murder of Odin Lloyd. Ronald Sullivan is seen on the right
The case is Harvey Weinstein v. Jose Baez, et al., New York County Supreme Court, index no. Unassigned.
Last week, Weinstein was told he no longer has legal options to stop his extradition to Los Angeles, where he faces 11 more allegations of rape and sexual assault.
He is currently serving a 23-year sentence in a maximum-security prison near Buffalo, New York, after being found guilty in March 2020.
Weinstein was seen Friday morning during the Zoom virtual hearing from his prison, in which Judge Kenneth Case of Erie County indicated that he would be sent to Los Angeles within 30 days – on May 30, 2021 – to face further charges.
The 69-year-old’s attorneys have tried to delay their client’s extradition to Los Angeles for as long as possible, arguing that he should stay in one place for treatment before a range of health agencies.
Last month, they argued that extradition papers were not in order, and he was given a short grace period.
However, unless warring New York Governor Andrew Cuomo intervenes or he successfully disputes the arrest, Weinstein appears destined to be sent to LA.
“We don’t have to come back,” the judge said in Friday’s hearing. “He has 30 days to contest the arrest or have the governor denounce the transfer.”
Pictured: Harvey Weinstein emerges from prison, during a virtual hearing on possible extradition to California to face further sexual assault charges, before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case in Buffalo, New York, USA April 30, 2021
Attorney Norman Effman told the judge that he will be filing paperwork within the next 30 days that is likely yet to be in court regarding Weinstein’s extradition.
Weinstein has been at the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo since last spring after being convicted of a criminal sex act and third-degree rape in New York City.
Los Angeles prosecutors are seeking his transfer on charges of assaulting five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.
There, he faces 11 charges of rape and sexual assault, which could theoretically carry a maximum sentence of 140 years.
Weinstein appeared remotely from a conference room at the prison last Thursday for the hearing, which, according to Erie County assistant district attorney Colleen Curtin Gable, should start a 30-day clock on his extradition.
Judge Kenneth Case agreed, noting that only a challenge from Weinstein or an objection from the governor would stop the trial.
“I can tell you I plan to file a file and I will do it as soon as possible,” said his attorney, Norman Effman. He did not say what would be in the application.
Last week, Weinstein was told he no longer has legal options to stop his extradition to Los Angeles, where he faces 11 more allegations of rape and sexual assault. Pictured: Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan court in 2020 [file photo]
Weinstein was initially indicted in California in a criminal complaint, then indicted by a grand jury on March 15.
He maintains his innocence and maintains that every sexual activity was a consensus.
Effman previously requested a “ humanitarian ” reprieve from Weinstein’s already pandemic-delayed rendition to meet his medical needs, but the request was denied by California prosecutors.
Weinstein, the attorney said, is scheduled to undergo two medical procedures, eye surgery and dental surgery.
He said earlier this month that Weinstein is “technically nearly blind” and has lost four teeth behind bars. He also survived a battle with the corona virus in March.
A jury found Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring actress in a New York hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting a production assistant in his apartment in 2006 by forcibly performing oral sex on her.
The Hollywood producer’s lawyers have appealed his 2020 conviction.
Weinstein was acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory assault following actor Annabella Sciorra’s allegations of rape in the mid-1990s.
Allegations against Weinstein in 2017 were seen by many as the spark for the #MeToo movement, which led countless women around the world to come out and share their experiences of sexual abuse – both in the workplace and at home.