Jury filled for Bill Cosby's trial as defense alleges discrimination

Wendy Jensen
April 8, 2018

A key process - the selection of a jury of seven men and five women - was completed on Wednesday after nearly three days of selection, with prosecutors and lawyers for Cosby agreeing on the final member of the panel.

The rulings came ahead of a productive second day of jury selection in suburban Philadelphia, with a half-dozen jurors picked by the midday lunch break to bring the total number to seven.

Cosby's lawyers are upset because prosecutors have blocked two white men from serving on the jury, including one who said he thought numerous women coming forward in the #MeToo movement are "jumping on the bandwagon".

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

Cosby is charged with three counts of indecent assault for allegedly sexually assaulting Constand in his Montgomery County home in 2004.

The 80-year-old comedian's first trial ended in a hung jury. "For them to now make the claim that the strike of an individual establishes some type of pattern is, I think unfortunately, not being done for this court but for the media behind us".

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Jury selection for the retrial got underway Monday, with all but 10 potential jurors indicating they have knowledge about the case.

Cosby's defense team has signaled it intends to be much more aggressive about painting Cosby's accuser Angela Constand as a money-grubber who fabricated her claims of assault to extort money from a rich and powerful man. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said he didn't believe the prosecution had any "discriminatory intent".

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The camera shows the judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers, but not potential jurors who are being questioned as a group. He said the encounter was consensual.

The young man picked as a retrial juror Monday said he did not know anything about Cosby's case.

The accusation led to a tense argument in the Pennsylvania courtroom before the judge adjourned to discuss the matter, but he indicated he was unlikely to side with Cosby's lawyers.

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That process will continue later Monday afternoon, as the judge will begin questioning potential panel members one-on-one, in what could become a highly contentious battle between the District Attorney's Office and Cosby's defense team, led by California lawyer Tom Mesereau. Jackson says Constand once commented to her about setting up a "high-profile person" and filing a lawsuit.

Jury selection resumes for a fourth day on Thursday as the prosecution and defense work to select six alternates. The state insisted that is not the case, and pointed out that two black people have already been seated on the panel.

Ms Constand's lawyer has said Ms Jackson is not telling the truth.

O'Neill previously helped prosecutor's case by allowing five additional accusers to testify against Cosby. The first trial end in a mistrial last June when the jury could not reach a verdict. One juror said the panel was split 10-2 in favor of conviction, while another said the group was more evenly divided.

The Associated Press 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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