Bill Cosby Jury Selection Resumes After Delay Over "Racial Animus" Claims

Apr 08, 2018, 01:30
Bill Cosby Jury Selection Resumes After Delay Over

The trial is set to begin April 9.

O'Neill ruled that Marguerite Jackson can take the witness stand after he blocked her from testifying at the first trial, which ended in a hung jury, saying her testimony would be hearsay.

Jury selection got underway Monday, with all but one potential juror telling a judge they've heard or seen something about the #MeToo campaign exposing sexual misconduct in the news and entertainment industries.

Just 10 of 240 prospective jurors brought in on the first two days of jury selection were black, or about 4.2 percent.

Although Montgomery County's population is 10% black, the jury pool has not reflected the demographics of this Philadelphia suburb.

Judge Steven T. O'Neill called the jury-selection process "long and arduous".

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The major disagreement of the day came in a challenge from Mr. Cosby's lawyers, who claimed that the prosecution had objected to the inclusion of a black woman on the jury because of her race.

Of the 64 men and 56 women probed, 69 said they already held an opinion about whether or not the 80-year-old drugged and molested former Temple University staffer Andrea Constand in his Cheltenham home in 2004. Prosecutors and Cosby's lawyers nevertheless found him acceptable. The camera showed the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors who were being questioned as a group.

On Tuesday, Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss sprung a Batson challenge on the judge after prosecutors used one of their seven peremptory challenges to strike a white male.

The majority of potential jurors summoned for the first trial said they had heard of the case, and almost half reported that they already had a fixed opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence.

Defense lawyers at Bill Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges can call a witness they say will undermine his accuser's credibility, a Pennsylvania judge said on Tuesday, reversing his ruling that barred the same witness from the first trial of the comedian once known as "America's Dad".

Cosby's lawyers alleged a member of the prosecution team made a disparaging remark after prosecutors rejected one of the few black women considered for the case.

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Bliss also accused one member of the prosecution team - whom she did not name - of making "discriminatory and repulsive" comments, which she did not detail or describe in open court.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press and other news organizations filed a legal motion Tuesday to challenge an arrangement that forces reporters to watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom.

A dozen people were invited back for individual questioning Wednesday as the prosecution and defense look to fill 11 remaining spots.

The judge also ruled that jurors can hear how much Cosby paid Constand in a 2006 civil settlement.

Prosecutors have referred to Jackson as "unreliable" and said her story was "absurd". He says the encounter with the former Temple University women's basketball administrator was consensual.

O'Neill previously helped prosecutor's case by allowing five additional accusers to testify against Cosby.

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The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done. The camera shows the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors.