Entertaiment

Bill Cosby trial judge delivers two big victories to defence

Bill Cosby trial judge delivers two big victories to defence

The judge in Cosby's retrial ruled that his lawyers can call a witness who says his accuser talked about framing a celebrity.

The ruling to allow Margo Jackson's testimony came on the second day of jury selection for the second trial where the 80-year-old entertainer will face charges that he sexually assaulted a staffer more than a decade ago at his alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia. Marguerite Jackson worked with the Temple University women's basketball team at the same time as Constand; her testimony was barred from Cosby's first trial.

The jurors selected Tuesday include: a young black man; a young white man with a past misdemeanor conviction for disorderly conduct; a middle-aged black woman who said she or a close family member has been a sexual assault victim; a white man in his 50s; and two middle-aged white women who told the judge they had heard of the case against Cosby but said it would not affect their ability to be fair and impartial.

Prosecutors and the defence began the hard task of picking a jury for Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial Monday amid a powerful #MeToo movement that has pierced the consciousness of the men and women who will sit in judgment of the 80-year-old comedian. O'Neill also could boost the defense's case if he rules that jurors can hear how much Cosby paid Constand in a 2006 civil settlement. 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".

In all, seven jurors - three women and four men - had been selected as of 1 p.m. Tuesday. Almost all of the other 119 people interviewed either knew about the charges and/or had already drawn a conclusion about Cosby's innocence or guilt. Ten years later, a judge unsealed deposition testimony Cosby gave during that civil suit, in which he said he did give Constand pills and there was sexual contact the night of the alleged assault.

Judge Steven O'Neill has said the jurors will be subject to strict sequestration during the trial, which is expected to last a month.

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These will likely incorporate beech, birch and hornbeam branches and white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves. They stayed with her as one of her favourite flowers, so it was important to include them", he added.

Cosby's lawyers have also used two strikes, both to block white women from serving. He was one of only 10 prospective jurors to indicate they hadn't heard anything about the charges against Cosby. They said the process included requests from Cosby that Constand and her lawyers destroy their records of the case and refuse to cooperate with law enforcement officials. A second large group of potential jurors was also brought in Tuesday, in case the sides ran out of jurors from the first group.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press and other news organizations filed a legal motion Tuesday to challenge an arrangement that forces reporters to watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom. He says the sexual encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual. He said he wouldn't rule on that until it was brought up at the retrial. The lone person who claimed ignorance on Me Too was not invited back.

The Cosby jury will consist of 12 jurors and six alternates.

In all, prosecutors and the defence removed a total of 91 potential jurors before breaking for the day, leaving only 28 from this group to fill the remaining 17 slots.

Court documents indicate the defense has asked to call a witness they say shows Constand planned to fabricate a claim of sexual assault in order to get a big payout.


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