Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Why Bill Cosby's trial will be different this time

Jury selection begins for Bill Cosby's second trial Cosby can call witness to undermine sex assault accuser, judge rules
Wallace Pearson | 08 April, 2018, 01:34

Prosecutors and the defense wrapped up jury selection in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case Thursday, setting the stage for the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

Defense attorney's claimed similar cases of discrimination during jury selection on Tuesday, claiming the prosecution was eliminating older white males from serving on the jury.

But Montgomery County district attorney Kevin Steele said prosecutors had agreed to both the black jurors to emerge from a jury pool.

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

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

Cosby is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 in his Cheltenham Township home.

Last year, his first trial ended in a hung jury.

The defence had made the same argument on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) regarding the prosecution's exclusion of several white men, but Judge Steven O'Neill rejected it.

The next day, the prosecution used one of its challenges to strike a black woman. Ms. Bliss made a so-called Batson claim - in which a lawyer objects to a challenge brought by the other side, claiming that it was motivated by race, sex or ethnicity - forcing the judge to suspend jury selection to hear arguments.

The legal manoeuvring came as lawyers picked an eighth juror, a white woman who was at first hesitant to guarantee she could block out what she's read and seen about the Cosby case and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.

The man said Thursday he believes he can set aside what he's heard about the Cosby case, but hesitated and couldn't guarantee it when pressed by the judge.

The judge in Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial has delivered two major victories to the comedian's legal defense.

The judge told jurors the trial will last about a month. Constand's lawyer has said Jackson isn't telling the truth.

"She's the only African-American left", Cosby's attorney Kathleen Bliss said.

The saga began this morning at the Montgomery County Courthouse here in Norristown, PA, after a middle-aged black woman was dismissed as a potential juror by prosecutors. Jackson, a former co-worker of Constand's at Temple University, will likely be called by the defense to paint Constand as a liar seeking fame and money from their well-known client.

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

Jury selection is almost finished in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case.

The judge last June declared a mistrial after more than 52 hours of jury deliberations over six days.

The woman said she could put aside her thoughts that Cosby is guilty.

Prosecutors plan to call as many as 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.

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. Prosecutors denied race had anything to do with it. Cosby is black.

AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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