Convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein is suing a former lawyer for breach of contract and is seeking a one million dollar refund on legal fees.
Weinstein alleges Jose Baez was regularly preoccupied with other matters, passed important work to other lawyers, was often unavailable to speak with him about his New York rape case and later provided fraudulent billing records.
Mr Baez, a Florida-based lawyer best known for representing Casey Anthony, joined Weinstein’s defence in January 2019 and left six months later, saying the former movie mogul had tarnished their relationship by communicating only through other lawyers and by failing to abide by a fee agreement.
Former Hollywood movie mogul Weinstein, in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, claims he agreed to pay Mr Baez and another lawyer 2 million dollars for their defence work on the landmark MeToo case but that Mr Baez violated New York law by stating in his agreement that his retainer was non-refundable and non-negotiable.
Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 of raping an aspiring actress in 2013 and a sex offence against a production assistant in 2006. He is serving a 23-year sentence in state prison. Last month, his lawyers filed appeal paperwork demanding a new trial.
Weinstein also faces a likely extradition to California, where he is charged with assaulting five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.
Weinstein hired Mr Baez, Harvard Law professor Ronald Sullivan and two other lawyers after splitting from Benjamin Brafman, the pugnacious New York City defence lawyer who had been with him since his arrest in 2018.
Mr Baez first gained fame for representing Ms Anthony, the Florida mother whose televised trial in 2011 ended in an acquittal on charges accusing her of killing her young daughter.
Mr Baez and Mr Sullivan successfully defended New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez against murder charges in 2017. Hernandez, in prison for a 2015 murder conviction, killed himself five days later.
Mr Sullivan left Weinstein’s case in May amid a backlash about his involvement.