Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Tech | By Anita Cain

Cosby lawyer fights decision to toss black woman from jury pool

Cosby lawyer fights decision to toss black woman from jury pool

Defence 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 (April 3), reversing his ruling that barred the same witness from the first trial of the comedian once known as "America's Dad".

Prosecutors pushed back, noting two black jurors have been already been seated on the panel that will sit in judgment of the 80-year-old comedian.

Those jurors include three white men, ranging in age from their 20s to 50s; two white women, believed to be in their 40s or 50s; one African American man in his 30s; and one African American woman in her 50s.

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.

The trouble began late Wednesday morning after prosecutors used one of seven peremptory challenges to strike the would-be juror from the pool, and defense attorneys claimed the strike was racially motivated.

Cosby's lawyers eventually relented, and once jury selection resumed, three white men and a white woman were quickly placed on the panel.

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

The charges were lodged against Cosby on December 30, 2015, before the 12-year statute of limitations to file charges expired.

Cosby's lawyers agreed to let jury selection proceed.

Dickinson said she did not come forward about what allegedly happened to her at the time because she was afraid of retaliation from Cosby and damages to her career. He's pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors initially asked the judge to allow testimony from a total of 19 women, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, but were told to select five of eight.

Media lawyers had challenged an arrangement that forced reporters to watch the group questioning part of jury selection on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom.

All but one of the 120 potential jurors who answered questions about their background and views told a judge they had heard or seen something about #MeToo, the cultural campaign that has been exposing sexual misconduct in the entertainment and news industries.

DelRicci 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.

Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse before jury selection in his sexual assault retrial April 2, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

As of Tuesday, seven of the jurors have been picked. Once the jury is assembled, they will be sequestered for the duration of the trial and deliberations, which could last a month.

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

Jury selection will continue Wednesday in Norristown. She has said Constand once commented to her about setting up a "high-profile person" and filing suit.

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

The 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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