For Harvey Weinstein—and presumably a number of the more than 80 women who’ve accused him of sexual abuse—the start of 2020 meant one thing: that Weinstein’s first criminal trial would at long last begin. On the first Monday of the year, Weinstein arrived at the New York City Criminal Court, hunched over his new walker and looking distinctly disheveled—a look he’s stuck with every day since. But Weinstein hasn’t been the only one reporting for duty: Hundreds of jurors have been doing so, too, as part of the trial’s increasingly desperate search to find 18 people—12 jurors and six alternates—capable of serving on a jury of his peers. (Not to mention put their lives on hold for up to two months.)
By the next day, there was already enough material for several media outlets to extensively report the difficulties of such a task. Tuesday saw 43 out of 120 potential jurors claim that they were incapable of being fair or impartial, prompting the judge, Justice James Burke, to emphasize that having heard of Weinstein, as well as the allegations against him, are not disqualifications—”so long as you keep in mind that the jurors in this case will be deciding the case based on what they hear inside the courtroom regardless of what the press or anyone else has said about the case outside the courtroom.”
That day, the court revealed the names of more than 80 people that may be mentioned or called to testify over the course of the trial—Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek, Annabella Sciorra, and Rosie Perez among them. The judge then called for anyone who knew any on the list to stand and express whether or not they would be able to remain impartial. He’s gone through the same motions for each group of 120 potential jurors since—including the one that gathered in the courtroom on Monday, which just so happened to include the 24-year-old supermodel Gigi Hadid.
While the rest of the potential jurors who stood cited names like those of Weinstein’s former employees, Hadid cited one of the most recognizable on the list: Salma Hayek (and “possibly” Ryan Beatty). “I think I’m still able to keep an open mind on the facts,” she added, noting that she had also met Weinstein, but felt that wouldn’t impede her impartiality. (It’s worth noting that Hadid is also friends with fellow model Cara Delevingne, who has publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, though it does not appear that Delevingne’s name was on the list.)
Hadid has yet to publicly discuss the case, nor mention it on social media. (And likely won’t be doing so any time soon, after the judge’s reminder that those who do could be fined and spend 30 days in jail.) But the same can’t be said for the rest of the world, much of which went into a frenzy upon learning of such an improbable turn of events. “Gigi Hadid getting jury duty for the Weinstein case on Oscar nom day feels like god is playing MASH,” one Twitter user summed it up in a tweet that’s since been liked nearly 100,000 times.
And yet, Hadid was not among the dozens who were disqualified in the hours that followed. Instead, she was among the 35 or so left in the courtroom who were asked “Who can serve and who’s willing to serve?,” at which point she reportedly raised her hand and received a questionnaire. More than 24 hours later, there’s still no indication that she’s been ruled out.
The idea that Hadid, one of the highest profile supermodels and influencers in the world, would actually become a part of the jury of one of the highest profile trials of the past decade, if not more, seems beyond implausible. It’s not unheard of for celebrities to serve as jurors, but it’s hard to imagine that Weinstein’s legal team wouldn’t make the case that Hadid has far too many ties to the circles that Weinstein ran in until his fall from grace in 2017. But in yet another twist, Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, seems just fine with the idea of Hadid participating in the trial. “She can be fair like everyone else,” Rotunno said, according to the Manhattan courts reporter Molly Crane-Newman.
But with opening statements just eight days away, it’s looking more and more like the court could hang on to Hadid. January 22 is just around the corner, and yet, only dozens of the hundreds summoned have qualified for the second round of questioning, which is set for Thursday. In the meantime, that number could easily dwindle further as their questionnaires—including Hadid’s—are screened. (On Monday, the New York Daily News reported that the court had amassed 108 complete questionnaires, a significant portion of which the judge expects to dismiss.)
Judging from the accounts from jurors who’ve been dismissed, swaths of those summoned are clamoring to get dismissed. The reasons are myriad, and extend far beyond an inavailability to take off work for six to eight weeks. According to one potential juror, who tweeted about his experience after being dismissed, dozens of hands immediately shot up on the second day of the trial when the judge asked about impediments to impartiality. The first one he called was forced to share with the entire court that she was a survivor—a reason that at least five other women cited that day alone.
Many more have gone on to cite personal experience with sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein’s legal team attempted, but failed, to have each potential juror who witnessed a woman claim she was another claimed that she had “a close friend who had an encounter” with Weinstein dismissed. Meanwhile, at least a few have shared that they recently read Ronan Farrow’s book on Weinstein, Catch and Kill. And then there’s the person who asked Twitter users for advice on how to leverage the trial to promote his new novel—a surefire way if there was ever was one to get dismissed.