What to expect during Bill Cosby's jury selection

Candice Alexander
June 6, 2017

FILE – In this combination of file photos, entertainer Bill Cosby pauses during an interview in Washington on November 6, 2014, and Andrea Constand poses for a photo in Toronto on August 1, 1987.

One-third of the potential jurors questioned in Bill Cosby's sex assault case say they've formed opinions about his guilt or innocence while two-thirds say it would be hard to serve.

Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University. He calls their encounter consensual. Jurors will be about 300 miles (482 kilometers) from home, across the state in suburban Philadelphia. In a rare interview last week, Cosby suggested racism had played a role in his treatment because he is black. O'Neill is keeping the jurors' names, ages and occupations private from reporters.

Bill Cosby, right rear, arrives with one of his attorneys Angela Agrusa, center, for the second day of jury selection in his sexual assault case at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Pittsburgh. "Certainly Bill Cosby has the money that he can spend to hire experts to instruct the defense team on how to pick the exact juror that they believe is the best juror to hear Bill Cosby's case", Mullaney said.

Among the jurors chosen Tuesday a man said to be in his 20s an a woman in her 50s, both of whom said they had no opinions on the case.

Juror No. 8, a white middle-age man, said he could be a fair juror even though a family member had once suffered a sexual assault.

"From Cosby's perspective, the chance to get a Pittsburgh jury rather than a Montgomery County jury would have been appealing", said Ms Anne Poulin, a professor emeritus of law at Villanova University, who is unconnected to the case. Court officials said Judge Steven O'Neill had taken the bench.

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Cosby entered the courtroom in Pittsburgh on the arm of an aide, using a cane and carrying a box of tissues.

"He's holding up fine, he's looking forward to it. and we're looking forward to getting a trial", said defence lawyer Brian McMonagle. "We're looking to finish the process tomorrow, and we are hopeful that we'll be able to do so". However, Cosby has said he does not expect to testify.

The defense has used four of its seven strikes as it tries to exclude people they fear would be unsympathetic to Cosby. They are all white, as are the three selected Tuesday. And I don't feel her say anything. She said Cosby gave her wine and pills that put her in a stupor before molesting her on his couch.

Dozens of women have leveled similar allegations at Cosby stretching back decades, though Constand's claims are the only ones to result in criminal charges. Cosby in sworn testimony has said he put his hand down Constand's trousers, but said she did not protest.

The tedious task of selecting a jury for entertainer Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial began Monday in Pittsburgh and some local lawyers predicted Cosby's notoriety and juror hardship could be hurdles to getting that jury quickly.

During the first day of the selection process, Judge Steven O'Neill asked 100 potential jurors nearly 50 questions. The 100 people summoned to the Allegheny County courthouse have included 16 people of color.

Her accusation led to Cosby's arrest in December 2014, days before the statute of limitations on the alleged crime was to expire.

Other reports by VgToday

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