Cosby’s lawyers want juror ousted over ‘guilty’ comment
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NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A man selected as a juror in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial thinks the comedian is guilty and wants the case to be over, according to a prospective juror who said the man offered his opinion as they chatted during jury selection.
Cosby’s lawyers seized on the alleged comment and asked Friday that the juror be removed immediately from the retrial, which begins Monday in suburban Philadelphia with opening statements. They attached an affidavit from the prospective juror who talked to the man as an exhibit.
He is said to have stated: “I just think he’s guilty, so we can all be done and get out of here.”
If the juror isn’t removed, the defense lawyers said, Judge Steven O’Neill should question him to determine if he can be fair and impartial, or if he lied during the questioning that led to his selection. They also want the other jurors questioned to see if they were influenced by the man’s alleged comment.
Prosecutors had no comment on the jurors’ alleged conversation. Court officials didn’t immediately respond to messages about it.
The prospective juror said she didn’t know if the man was joking or serious. She said in her affidavit that some people being considered for the jury were sitting close enough to overhear the conversation and they may have heard the comments about Cosby.
There may have been one inconsistency about the juror: The prospective juror described him as appearing to be in his mid-20s, but the man picked as the 11th juror appeared to reporters to be middle-aged.
The names of jurors are kept confidential while a case is pending, making it impossible to reach the man for comment.
The man who was selected as juror No. 11 on Wednesday disclosed that a friend worked in the county detectives’ office, but he said they hadn’t discussed the Cosby case and that he wouldn’t let the relationship affect his ability to be impartial.
He even got a laugh out of Cosby when O’Neill apologized for the length of the process and he replied, “all good.”
The prospective juror blowing the whistle on that juror is a black woman who became the unwitting subject of a lengthy debate between the two legal sides after prosecutors used a challenge to remove her from consideration.
The woman had said she could ignore what she knew about the Cosby case and the #MeToo movement to serve as an impartial juror. She also said being a domestic violence victim wouldn’t affect her jury service.
Prosecutors didn’t give a reason for pulling the woman on Wednesday and were not required to by law.
Cosby’s lawyers alleged prosecutors were discriminatory in wanting the woman off the case and later accused a member of the prosecution team of making a racially derogatory remark.
“By all appearances, she was a perfectly qualified juror who stated that she could be fair and impartial,” Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss said, arguing that there was no explanation for the woman’s removal “other than her race.”
That night, Cosby’s lawyers said, the prospective juror called Bliss’ office to report the 11th juror’s alleged comments.
The retrial jury is comprised of seven men and five women. Ten of them are white, including the 11th juror. Two of them are black.
Also on Friday, Judge O’Neill sided with prosecutors in ruling that ex-District Attorney Bruce Castor’s opinions are irrelevant. O’Neill also barred mention of a 2015 election that Castor lost to current DA Kevin Steele, whose ads criticized him for not charging Cosby.
Castor wrote in a 2005 press release that the case was too flawed and that both Cosby and accuser Andrea Constand could be portrayed “in a less than flattering light.”
His successors reopened it in 2015 after Cosby’s decade-old testimony from Constand’s civil suit was unsealed.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.