COSBY DEFENSE ALLEGES DISCRIMINATION IN JURY SELECTION
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby’s lawyers challenged the prosecution’s exclusion of a black woman from serving on the jury at his sexual assault retrial, alleging on Wednesday that the decision was made on the basis of her race. Prosecutors pushed back, noting two blacks have been already been seated on the panel that will sit in judgment of the 80-yearold comedian. The judge said he didn’t believe the prosecution had any “discriminatory intent” but halted the third day of jury selection to consider the defense argument. 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 prosecutors from excluding prospective jurors because of their race. The defense had made the same argument on Tuesday regarding the prosecution’s exclusion of several white men, but Judge Steven O’Neill rejected it. The legal maneuvering came as lawyers picked an eighth juror, a white woman who was at first hesitant to guarantee she could block out what she’s read and seen about the Cosby case and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. “I could try. I mean, it’s still in my head,” she explained, before eventually agreeing. The jury so far consists of six whites and two blacks. Four jurors are men and four are omen.A dozen people were invited back for individual questioning Wednesday as the prosecution and defense looked to fill the remaining spots. A third batch of 120 potential jurors was also called to the courthouse in suburban Philadelphia. Cosby chatted with lawyer Kathleen Bliss in court, saying,“How are you this morning?” She replied, “bright eyed and bushy tailed.” He then feigned a glance behind her, as if looking for a tail. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He says the encounter with the former Temple University women’s basketball administrator was consensual. No major rulings were expected Wednesday after the trial judge opened Tuesday’s session by issuing decisions favorable to a defense team that is trying to cast Cosby as the victim of a shakedown scheme involving false accusations of sexual assault.