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


The final jurors were selected for Bill Cosby retrial Wednesday, but not before some heated moments between the defense and prosecution.

As jury selection proceeded, The Associated Press and other news organizations challenged an arrangement that forces reporters to watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom. James Kirkland Batson, a black man convicted by an all-white jury for burglary, argued that his rights were violated after four black people were struck from the panel.

But Montgomery County district attorney Kevin Steele said prosecutors had agreed to both the black jurors to emerge from a jury pool.

The legal manoeuvring 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.

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 due to their race. For the first trial, the court went to Pittsburgh to select jurors. Constand is expected to take the stand and testify against Cosby once again, this time alongside five other women.

Numerous victims recall Cosby offering them a drink that was laced with Quaaludes, a notable date-rape drug, which he admitted to in an old deposition.

The next day, the prosecution used one of its challenges to strike a black woman.

The jury is not meant to bring any biases into the courtroom with them, but recent events and the publicity of this case may make that nearly impossible. He contended that Cosby's lawyers were playing to the media.

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O'Neill granted the Cosby's team's request to call a woman who says Constand talked about framing a celebrity before she lodged allegations against him in 2005. But he changed his mind following both written submissions and oral arguments at pretrial hearings last week. He also ruled that the jury can hear the amount of the settlement that Cosby reached with his accuser. They still have to pick six alternates. The black population in Montgomery County is about 9.6 percent black, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates. Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss said Wednesday that a member of the prosecution team was overheard saying "something that was discriminatory and repulsive".

Cosby is charged with drugging and sexually molesting Constand, a Temple University women's basketball administrator, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

The judge last June declared a mistrial after more than 52 hours of jury deliberations over six days. Constand's lawyer has said Jackson isn't telling the truth.

All but one of the people in the initial group of potential jurors said they were aware of the #MeToo movement or the allegations it spurred against powerful entertainment figures.

The jury picked to decide Bill Cosby's fate in the first big trial of the #MeToo era mirrors the gender and racial makeup of the group that deadlocked in last year's trial.

In all, prosecutors and the defence removed a total of 91 potential jurors before breaking on Monday.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.