Bill Cosby jury filled as defense alleges discrimination

08 April, 2018, 01:34 | Author: Gary Shelton
  • Jury selection begins for Bill Cosby's second trial

An accusation of "racial animus" from Bill Cosby's defense team against the prosecution halted the third day of jury selection for the comedian's sexual assault trial for almost three hours. His first trial on those charges previous year ended in a hung jury.

A majority of jurors summoned as potential alternates Thursday said they had already formed an opinion on the comedian's guilt or innocence, and three-quarters of them said it would be a hardship to serve.

The final panel is made up of seven men and five women, consisting of 10 white jurors and two black jurors.

The battle over the black juror's removal highlighted a vast racial disparity in the suburban Philadelphia jury pool that limited the number of black people available for consideration.

Judge Steven O'Neill has ordered both sides into chambers to talk it over.

Prosecutors and the defence have settled on the panel of 12 jurors who will sit in judgment of the 80-year-old comedian.

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

Those witnesses are expected to testify about similar alleged sexual assaults as prosecutors try to show that Cosby engaged in a pattern of misconduct.

The original retrial was due to begin in November 2017 but was pushed back six months after Cosby hired the new lawyers.

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 first alternate picked Thursday, a middle-aged black man, said he could set aside what he's heard about the Cosby case but hesitated and couldn't guarantee it when pressed by the judge. It took three days to find a jury in Pittsburgh for the first trial, selected from two groups of about 100 Allegheny County residents.

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".

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Cosby's first trial, last June, ended when the former jury deadlocked following almost 60 hours of deliberation.

District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the allegations, saying that prosecutors had no problem seating the two other black people who had appeared for individual questioning.

In all, prosecutors and the defense removed a total of 91 potential jurors before breaking on Monday.

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. He also ruled that the jury can hear the amount of the settlement that Cosby reached with his accuser. Montgomery County President Judge Thomas DelRicci agreed to move the camera to the back of the courtroom so the media could see the potential jurors.

"Crying by men and by women and more than one", he said.

O'Neill previously gave a boost to the prosecution, ruling they can call five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby - the former TV star once revered as "America's Dad" for his family sitcom The Cosby Show - as a serial predator.

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The Associated Press doesn't typically identify people who say they're victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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