Jurors in Bill Cosby's retrial will hear testimony that could seriously damage the credibility of his accuser and lead to the entertainer's victory.
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. But they're allowed to testify in this case to help a jury decide whether Cosby knew what he was doing.
Cosby's lawyers eventually relented, and once jury selection resumed, three white men and a white woman were quickly placed on the panel.
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. Kathleen Bliss, one of Cosby's attorneys, challenged her dismissal as being based on her race. 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.
Cosby is charged with drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former friend and Temple University employee, in 2004.
The comedian denies the claims against him and his defense argued at his first trial that he and Constand had consensual relations.That trial, which took place previous year, ended in a hung jury.
"By all appearances, she was a perfectly qualified juror who stated that she could be fair and impartial", Bliss said, adding there was no explanation for the woman's removal "other than her race". Since then, prosecutors have told Cosby's lawyers that Constand had modified her statement to acknowledge she "recalls a Margo".
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Prosecutors pushed back, noting two blacks have been already been seated as jurors. Lawyers may also be able to discuss the money Constand received from settling the civil lawsuit against Cosby in 2006.
As jury selection picked up speed, the judge in Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial gave his legal defense a huge lift Tuesday with two rulings that could bolster the 80-year-old comedian's efforts to show his accuser made up the allegations against him in hopes of a big payday.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said the defense's argument was "not being done for the court but for the media behind us".
A dozen people were invited back for individual questioning Wednesday as the prosecution and defense look to fill 11 remaining spots.
Judge Steven O'Neill has ordered both sides into chambers to talk it over.
The defense is alleging the prosecution was discriminatory in using one of its seven strikes to remove the woman from consideration.
Prosecutors plan to call as many as five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby - the former TV star once revered as "America's Dad" for his family sitcom "The Cosby Show" - as a serial predator. The state insisted that is not the case, and pointed out that two black people have already been seated on the panel.
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The judge says he doesn't believe the prosecution had any "discriminatory intent" but halted Wednesday's proceeding to read a defense brief.
As of Tuesday, seven of the jurors have been picked.
Constand reported the assault to the police in 2005 and filed a civil suit against Cosby when prosecutors initially declined to press charges. He's pleaded not guilty.
As Wednesday's (Thursday NZT) session got underway, a judge gave The Associated Press and other media organisations more access to jury selection.
Media lawyers had challenged an arrangement that forced reporters to watch the group questioning part of jury selection on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom.
Bliss went on to make the stunning allegation of racism against the unidentified Cosby prosecutor, whom she claimed made the alleged comment.
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