Defense raises race bias in Cosby jury selection process


The hunt is on for a 12th juror for Bill Cosby's sex assault trial from a new pool summoned to a Pittsburgh courtroom.

Judge Steven O'Neill for now rejected the argument after prosecutors said the second woman was a former detective who had sued Pittsburgh and may have an anti-government bias.

O'Neill pledged to revisit the issue if defense lawyer Brian McMonagle, who had accused prosecutors of "a systematic exclusion of African-Americans", presented statistical evidence to back that up.

The 11 jurors chosen so far include one black.

The defense is crying foul after only one black person was seated among the first 11 jurors chosen.

Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a preliminary hearing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. on May 24, 2016.

Cosby emerged from an SUV at the Allegheny County Courthouse just before 8 a.m. wearing sunglasses and a tan sport coat. A new jury pool will be summoned Wednesday, when lawyers return to seek the final juror and six alternates.

"We believe it is of paramount importance we seat a diverse jury", McMonagle said, adding that it would be a "potential frightful problem" if the jury giving the verdict for the black comedian against accusation from a white woman was racially one-sided. He has called the encounter consensual. The jury from Pittsburgh will be sequestered almost 300 miles from home.

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Last week, Cosby suggested in a rare radio interview that he has been treated worse during the scandal because he is black.

O'Neill will allow one other accuser to testify at Cosby's trial.

"It's one thing to set aside intellectually what you know, but it's another to set it aside emotionally", said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor.

Dozens of other women have come forward in recent years to accuse Cosby of similar sexual abuse, but Constand's allegations are the only ones to result in criminal charges, in part because numerous other claims stretch back decades. "But race may take a more focused perspective because the defense has (raised it) recently".

Cosby's lawyers accused prosecutors this week of trying to keep blacks off the jury after they struck two black women from the panel. Their names, ages and occupations are being kept private. Two men selected Monday said they or someone close to them had been sexually assaulted, but they insisted they could judge the case fairly.

The 48-question juror survey asks if the potential jurors have an opinion about Cosby's guilt but not if they were fans of his comedy routines, top-ranked TV shows or family values speeches.

Defense lawyers are expected to grill Constand on her credibility, including why she did not report the incident until the following year and why she continued to maintain friendly contact with Cosby. His wife of 52 years, Camille Cosby, was not with him. Cosby in sworn testimony has said he put his hand down Constand's trousers, but said she did not protest. Cosby has said he believes the case may have racial overtones.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they come forward, as Constand has done.