Judge James Burke of Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court that they had a "medical problem, quot; with one of the lawyers".
"I certainly never actually meant that I was going to put your client in jail for life, nor did I mean that I had pre-judged whether he is guilty or not-guilty or innocent of the charges", Burke said, adding, "All I meant to do was scare him enough for him to discontinue using his phone".
As jury selection was underway, the justice had said: "Mr. Weinstein, I could not implore you more to not answer the following question: is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life, by texting in violation of an order?" "Ironically, I was concerned that Mr. Weinstein was getting better treatment and more chances than other defendants".
The defense further argued that Burke has failed to adequately safeguard Weinstein's right to a fair and impartial jury, in part by rejecting a request to halt jury selection for a "cooling off" period after prosecutors in Los Angeles filed new sex crimes charges against him on Monday.
Harvey Weinstein leaves NY court, January 6, 2020, in NY.
He called barring the public and the press from observing the process "inconsistent with having an open, transparent jury selection" and "against the law".
After jury selection, Mr Weinstein's NY trial is expected to begin in about two weeks' time.
The judge also tried to calm nerves after hearing someone gasp when he told jury candidates it was their sacred duty to serve.
When Donna Rotunno agreed to represent former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as lead defence attorney in his NY rape trial, she believed that her gender could prove to be an asset in the courtroom.
"Let me first just state the obvious", said Burke, after denying the motion.
More than 80 women, including A-list actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The prospective juror, who requested anonymity for professional reasons and said they were dismissed due to an upcoming family event that will conflict with the trial, described being in the courtroom as "chill inducing".
As Wednesday's group was assembling, Weinstein's lawyers took aim at one of his chief critics, trying to get prominent attorney Gloria Allred barred from the courtroom for the trial.
The 30 potential jurors who were not dismissed Wednesday are expected to return January 16 for the next phase of jury selection.
Weinstein has denied the allegations, saying any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
If convicted at a trial expected to last into March, the 67-year-old ex-studio boss could face life in prison.
The 120 potential jurors are expected to return on Friday morning.