Cosby deadlock makes task of finding second jury even more difficult

Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:10pm EDT
 
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Now that Bill Cosby's first sex assault trial has ended in deadlock, the difficulty of seating an unbiased jury for the famed entertainer's retrial may have ratcheted higher, thanks to blanket media coverage of the sensational case, legal experts say.

Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O'Neill has kept secret the names of the 12 jurors who spent 52 hours in an unsuccessful effort to decide whether Cosby, now 79, drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand at his home in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004.

O'Neill may have concern that naming them publicly could lead to another spate of stories on what led to the jury room logjam, further affecting potential jurors' thoughts on the case.

"It's one thing if they preview the evidence," said Wesley Oliver, a law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. "If the jury's analysis of the evidence has been previewed, that's much more of a tainting issue."

The judge will consider whether to release the jurors' names at a hearing on Tuesday.

Concerns about the case's visibility had already prompted O'Neill to import jurors for the first trial from Pittsburgh, around 300 miles (480 km) from the courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.

Prosecutors, who intend to retry Cosby, filed a motion on Monday urging O'Neill to refrain from identifying the jurors, arguing that widespread coverage of their deliberations could influence jurors for the retrial.

But David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, said he doubted such coverage would make much of a difference given the countless stories already published.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO - Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs after a judge declared a mistrial in his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. on June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo