Cosby jury filled as defense alleges discrimination

07 April, 2018, 01:03 | Author: Conrad Doyle
  • Bill Cosby faces his retrial in the #MeToo era

All six alternates - half of them black - were picked without incident after an earlier showdown over the jury's racial makeup. The other 10 jurors are white.

Cosby's lawyers complained that prosecutors had improperly excluded two white men from serving on the jury on the basis of race and age, including one who said he thought numerous women coming forward in the #MeToo movement are "jumping on the bandwagon".

A Philadelphia judge has thrown out a former prosecutor's defamation lawsuit against the accuser in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case.

The 12-person jury is made up of seven men and five women, which was the same breakdown of the jury during Cosby's first trial that ended in a mistrial in June.

"There may be a juror who says, 'I don't have an opinion about Cosby, but the #MeToo is very important to me, '" said Melissa M. Gomez, a jury expert and author of the book "Jury Trials Outside In". Four jurors are men and four are women.

Cosby's lawyers had tried to get the woman removed for cause after she admitted she checked off the wrong answers on her jury questionnaire because she hadn't read the questions.

After a break, defense attorney Bliss argued that she was "suspicious" of the intent behind the strike.

The 80-year-old entertainer has denied drugging and molesting a woman at his home in 2004.

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.

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He said he will not rule on that until it is brought up at the retrial.

Steele, however, noted that prosecutors already had endorsed the only other two African-Americans to come before them, both of whom were chosen as jurors. Almost everyone else in the initial jury pool of 120 suburban Philadelphia residents indicated they knew about the charges against Cosby.

Cosby's lawyers had appeared ready to strike at the first instance of prosecutors blocking a black juror, producing a legal brief that argued the move violated a 32-year-old Supreme Court ruling that prohibits prosecutions from excluding prospective jurors due to their race.

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.

Judge Steven T. O'Neill then made a decision to halt proceedings and summon attorneys to his chambers so he could hear the alleged comment.

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".

He was an outlier among the 120 suburban Philadelphia residents summoned as potential jurors in the case. Prosecutors did not have to give a reason for wanting her removed.

Eight jurors have been picked so far, including one Wednesday.

As he left the courthouse, Cosby thanked a woman who wished him good luck. He has pleaded not guilty. But he changed his mind following both written submissions and oral arguments at pretrial hearings last week.

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This time, though, the proceedings will unfold in a markedly different courtroom - and a different world. The camera shows the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors.

Montgomery County President Judge Thomas DelRicci agreed Wednesday to move the camera to the back of the courtroom so the media can see the potential jurors. The judge refused to make room in the crowded courtroom for a pool reporter, but said if the jury pool did not fill the room to capacity, he'd allow reporters to attend live.

Cosby is charged with drugging and sexually molesting Constand, a Temple University women's basketball administrator, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Last year, after more than 52 hours of jury deliberations over six days, the judge declared a mistrial.

All but one of the people in the initial group of potential jurors said they were aware of the #MeToo movement or the allegations it spurred against powerful entertainment figures.

Cosby's lawyers scored a pair of rulings Tuesday crucial to their strategy of painting his accuser as a money-grubbing liar.

Just one juror was seated as jury selection began on Monday.

Ms Constand's lawyer has said Ms Jackson is not telling the truth.

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