Jury Selection In Cosby Case Completed

Tina Ray
June 5, 2017

The trial will begin on June 5 in Montgomery County, as the defense unsuccessfully petitioned for it to take place elsewhere.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele called the jury of seven men and five women "a terrific jury made up of people from all demographics and from all parts of Allegheny County". "It's ironic how he makes that pivot, given that he's demonized poor black people in the past". The alternates consist of four white men, one black woman and one black man. "This case is frankly more about gender, celebrity, how women are treated (and) Bill Cosby's credibility".

Both sides agreed on the two final members Wednesday after debating the panel's racial makeup.

There were other 67 potential judges, but they already admitted that the case would be hard for them because it will be probable to take two weeks or longer and they will have to be isolated almost 300 miles from home. One prospective juror said he would suffer away from his wife's cooking due to his colitis before joking that his 45-year marriage was longer than some murderers served in prison, prompting laughs from the courtroom, including Cosby.

Their suspicions spilled over into the jury selection process on Tuesday when prosecutors moved for the second time to exclude an African American from the jury.

About 12 percent of the new group appeared to be black, just under the 13 percent reported in a 2015 census report on Allegheny County. Lawyers then picked a white woman to replace him. The oldest person chosen for the panel was perhaps in his 70s and, like Cosby, uses a cane.

Cosby thanked local officials and fans as he left the Pittsburgh courthouse Wednesday evening, including "all of the people who have come to see my shows". The defense objected, saying the two strikes showed a pattern of trying to eliminate minorities from the jury.

However, six were dismissed on the basis of their answers on questionnaires. Others were sent home after being questioned individually about various problems or conflicts.

A third of the initial jury pool questioned Monday said they had an opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence, and an equal number said they or someone close to them had been sexually assaulted.

"The Cosby team (now) cares about how the public and maybe even how the black community feels about this whole situation, which is striking given his diatribes against the most vulnerable people in that community". Other black jurors were knocked out for "cause", meaning the judge found they could not be impartial or serving would be a hardship.

The 100 people summoned to the Allegheny County courthouse for juror consideration so far have included 16 people of color. That ratio almost matches a 2015 census report that found 13 percent of Allegheny County residents identify as black.

On Monday, almost a third of the potential jurors summoned said they had already formed an opinion of Cosby's guilt or innocence in the sexual assault allegations lodged against him.

She was an employee at his alma mater, Temple University.

Cosby claims the incident was consensual.

Cosby goes on trial June 5 in suburban Philadelphia.

Because of intense publicity surrounding the case, the search for a jury was moved from the Philadelphia suburbs to Pittsburgh, nearly 300 miles away, in hopes of finding people who had not already made up their minds about the comedian's guilt or innocence.

Three of the six alternate jurors have been seated.

Lodging what's known as a Batson challenge, McMonagle said it would be a "potential awful problem" if the jury sitting in judgment of the black comedian accused of drugging and molesting a white woman was racially one-sided.

Assistant DA Stewart Ryan denied race was the reason for removing the black woman.

The latest developments emerge days after Cosby, 79, spoke out about the 50-plus women who have stacked up historic assault allegations against him in the last few years, insisting some are only attacking him because of the colour of his skin. One of them, a former Pittsburgh police officer, had been involved in civil suit against the city after she was implicated but ultimately cleared in a timesheet scandal.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven O'Neill has rejected defense attorneys' allegations of race bias.

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Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a woman in 2004.

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