A Manhattan judge let a fever-stricken lawyer conduct the sex abuse trial of Dr. Eric Braverman via speakerphone — until a coughing fit led to a mistrial.
“They declared a mistrial and we’re closing the 16th-floor attorney conference room. It will be deep cleaned,” said Office of Court Administration spokesman Lucian Chalfen.
Attorney Donald Vogelman called Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ruth Pickholz from the 16th floor Monday morning notifying her that he had spiked a fever and felt ill.
“No one is near me. I kicked anyone out who was in here,” he told the judge who was in the courtroom on the 13th floor.
“Would you be willing to do it on speakerphone, do your direct?” asked Pickholz. Vogelman was scheduled to put on his defense case Monday.
“Yes, I can do it,” he replied. Vogelman started questioning a witness but was having trouble hearing. The judge excused the jurors and minutes later, Vogelman erupted into a coughing fit. “I just can’t do it,” he told the judge who was then forced to declare a mistrial.
Four jurors had already called out due to coronavirus-related concerns, including one Monday morning, and had been replaced with alternates.
Vogelman represents Braverman, a neurosurgeon, who is accused of molesting a patient during a massage at his private office in the Flatiron District in July 2017. Braverman ran an anti-aging clinic at the time and his alleged victim, 27, sought out his services for a holistic cure for eczema.
“He started massaging my upper back and his hand caressed lower unto my butt and then he actually inserted his fingers into me,” she testified last week. “It was almost as if he was completely laying on top of me at one point.” One month later Braverman sent her a $395 bill.
Braverman will likely be retried in the coming months.