Cosby defense alleges discrimination in jury selection

05 April, 2018, 01:54 | Author: Kristen Mcgee
  • Bill Cosby centre arrives for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Monday

In recent years, dozens of women publicly accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, up to and including rape, but allegations go back decades, and the vast majority won't be adjudicated because of statutes of limitations.

Cosby's lawyers alleged a member of the prosecution team made a disparaging remark after a black woman was removed from consideration to serve on the jury in the 80-year-old comedian's retrial on sexual assault charges.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who is leading the prosecution, called the allegation of racism "ludicrous", pointing out that two of eight jurors impaneled are African American. The judge said he didn't believe the prosecution had any "discriminatory intent" but halted the third day of jury selection to consider the defence argument.

Mr Cosby's lawyers had accused prosecutors of racial discrimination earlier on Wednesday for excluding a black woman from the panel. On Tuesday, Cosby's defense challenged the prosecution's dismissal of two older white men based on their age, gender and race.

In contrast, five jurors were picked on the opening day of Cosby's first trial.

"I could try. I mean, it's still in my head", she explained, before eventually agreeing.

Two white men and a white woman will serve on the panel.

"She's the only African American left", Bliss claimed, referring to the latest pool of 120 potential jurors that have been summoned.

The defense then mounted what is known as a Batson challenge, which can be used during jury selection when one side feels that opposing counsel is dismissing potential jurors based exclusively on race, gender or age. She replied, "bright eyed and bushy tailed".

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Cosby is charged with drugging and sexually molesting a Temple University women's basketball administrator at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Constand, however, now admits that she recalls her former Temple University coworker. During the initial trial, Cosby was one of the first famous men to face sexual-assault charges in a courtroom.

In the retrial, a judge said Cosby's defense can disclose how much Constand was paid in the civil settlement.

At the first trial, Jackson gave Cosby's legal team a signed affidavit about a conversation she had with Constand during a team road trip to Rhode Island. The defense complained "she keeps changing her answers".

The jury questioning revealed some potential witnesses, including Dawn Staley, the SC women's basketball coach who was Ms Constand's boss at Temple; Temple board President Patrick O'Connor, who represented Cosby in Ms Constand's 2005-06 lawsuit against him; and Judge Risa Vetri Ferman, the former district attorney who charged Cosby just before she left office in 2015. Constand stated that a "high-profile" person did "something similar" to her. Jackson told her that she should have reported it.

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

Jackson's availability as a witness for Cosby could be crucial to a defence plan to attack Constand's credibility. Prosecutors denied race had anything to do with it. Cosby is black.

More than half said they already had made up their minds about Cosby, and all of them were dismissed.

As Wednesday's session got underway, a judge gave The Associated Press and other media organizations more access to jury selection.


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