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How a New Trial for Harvey Weinstein Could Again Test the Legal System

As one of Harvey Weinstein’s key accusers took the witness stand during his trial in New York, she broke down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably. After a brief break, she still could not compose herself. The trial was adjourned for the day. Hyperventilating, the woman was ushered out and her piercing screams bellowed out from a back room.

The episode was one of many tense moments in the highly publicized, weekslong trial of the former Hollywood titan in 2020. Now, they may happen all over again.

On Thursday, New York’s highest court ruled that the trial judge who presided over the sex crimes case in Manhattan erred when he let several women testify that Mr. Weinstein had assaulted them, even though their accusations were not part of the charges brought against the producer. The appeals court ordered a new trial.

But the original trial in 2020 against Mr. Weinstein was about much more than one man’s guilt. It had morphed into something more, as his accusers sparked the global #MeToo movement: Prosecutors were trying to prove not only that Mr. Weinstein was a sexual predator, but also that the justice system was both willing and able to hold powerful men accountable for their treatment of women.

The new ruling may do little to change the public’s perception of Mr. Weinstein, who is still notorious and behind bars and was sentenced to 16 years in prison for sex crimes in California.

For some, however, it raised new doubts about the legal system’s ability to hold influential people like him responsible.

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