Harvey Weinstein at the state supreme court for his criminal rape trial in New York City on Jan. 7

A Photographer's Take on the #MeToo Trial of the Decade

February 10, 2020 1:35 PM EST

Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial opened the new decade in spectacular fashion. Curious onlookers, protesters demanding justice, police, and the media filled the State Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan to witness the beginning of weeks of emotional testimony from accusers. If convicted, the 67-year-old could face life in prison; if acquitted, he faces another rape trial in Los Angeles. The New York trial marked at once a pivotal moment in the #MeToo movement and the fall of a mighty Hollywood emperor.

Journalists wait for Weinstein outside the New York City Criminal Court on Jan. 23
John Taggart
People line up to enter the courtroom during the rape trial for Weinstein on Jan. 8
John Taggart—Redux

New York based photographer John Taggart felt compelled to cover the Weinstein trial, which began on Jan. 6. “I think it’s crazy important,” says Taggart, who has been shooting news and features for 20 years and calls this case the #Metoo trial of the decade. He hadn’t photographed many trials before, but he went to the courthouse almost every day for the first two weeks of the trial and continues to make occasional visits. “I didn’t feel like waiting around. I went down there with no idea, no narrative, just straight in,” Taggart says of his initial trips to the lower Manhattan courthouse. Taggart’s photographs of Weinstein have been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic as well as TIME’s Instagram account. They’re recognizable for the use of powerful flash triggered both on and off camera, giving each walk into the courtroom a different mood.

Courtroom sketch artists Andrea and Shirley Shepard outside of New York City Criminal Court on​ Jan. 8
John Taggart
Defense lawyer Arthur L. Aidala, who represents Weinstein, speaks to journalists outside New York City Criminal Court on​ Jan. 8
John Taggart
Weinstein's walker equipped with tennis balls arrives at New York City Criminal Court for his rape trial on Jan. 1​0
John Taggart—Redux

Surrounded by his legal team, Weinstein almost always enters the courthouse hunched on a walker. The walker does not make it difficult for Taggart to photograph his face, however. “He moves very slow, almost like a turtle,” Taggart explains. “He’s got a fancy [walker] now, but the old one had a lot more character,” he says, referring to an older rendition of Weinstein’s walker fashioned with tennis balls at its feet. What is difficult is to get Weinstein and his defense attorney Donna Rotunno in one frame. “I try to get him with Donna as often as I can. I try — but it’s not easy, because she’s walking with her head down, whereas his head is up because of the walker.”

A member of Weinstein's legal team delivers lunch to his client in the courtroom on Jan. 22
John Taggart
U.S. women's-rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represents actor Annabella Sciorra, outside New York City Criminal Court on Jan. 8.
John Taggart—Redux
Women inspired by the Chilean feminist group Las Tesis perform "the rape dance" in front of the New York City Criminal Court during Weinstein's rape trial on Jan. 10
John Taggart—Redux

In order to find interesting frames every day, Taggart tries to go when no one else is around and steps away from where other photographers are standing. “I’m always trying to focus on something else besides him. It’s more about the whole scene around [the trial],” he says. He has sought to document not only Weinstein and his team, but also details of the building and those waiting to see him, a spectacle in itself. “Who knows what’s going on?” says Taggart. “I wanted to give it something different, more cryptic — because it’s like the death of an empire.

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Reporters take a lunch break outside the 15th-floor courtroom on Jan. 16
John Taggart
Supermodel Jelena Noura "Gigi" Hadid leaves New York City Criminal Court for jury selection in Weinstein's rape trial on Jan. 13
John Taggart—Redux
A sketch artist waits in line to enter the courtroom on Jan. 22
John Taggart

Then there have been days when hardly anyone is there. After the two or three days, according to Taggart, there were few other photographers, and protests outside the courtroom had died down. “It was a ghost town,” he says. Before, people had lined up before dawn to gain access. After a few weeks, empty seats began appearing in the courtroom.

Reporters wait outside the New York City Criminal Court on Jan. 22.
John Taggart
Signs in the New York City Criminal Court hallway designate public and press lines on Jan. 8
John Taggart—Redux

Still, Taggart continues to go to the courthouse and make photographs. The Prosecution rested its case on Thursday after calling 20 witnesses, including six women who collectively described the former Miramax chief as one who dangled career opportunities in exchange for sexual advances. Weinstein has continued to deny all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Media microphones outside New York City Criminal Court on Jan. 7
John Taggart—Redux
A television camera is protected from rain outside the New York City Criminal Court, Jan. 16
John Taggart

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