NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – Bill Cosby returns to court Monday as his attorneys fight to install rigorous jury-screening procedures for the comedian’s upcoming assault trial.
When 79-year-old Cosby is prosecuted this spring, his jury will have to travel 300 miles to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas from the Pittsburgh area.
Judge Steven O’Neill called Monday’s pretrial hearing in Norristown to consider the protocol suggested by Cosby’s attorneys for jury-selection.
The complicated schedule seeks to get the ball rolling right away, with attorneys conferring in April on a jury questionnaire that would like mailed to up to 2,000 potential Allegheny jurors.
Though the defense calls the questionnaire necessary to select an impartial jury in this high-profile case, prosecutors told O’Neill in a March 27 response brief that Cosby is looking for special treatment. They also objected to the defense’s request for an addition to the number of peremptory strikes to 20.
With trial slated to kick off on June 5, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele proposed having jury selection begin two weeks before that, allowing “potential jurors to adjust to the necessity of sequestration.”
Dozens of women have come forward in recent years with claims that Cosby drugged and assaulted them, dating back to the 1970s, but the entertainer’s upcoming trial in Pennsylvania marks the only case not barred by the statute of limitations.
The accuser in the case, Andrea Constand, says she became friends with Cosby while working at Temple University, where Cosby was a trustee. She claims that Cosby, who turns 80 in July, drugged and raped her at his Cheltenham home in 2005.
Prosecutors wanted 13 of Cosby’s other accusers to testify at the Constand trial, but Judge O’Neill agreed to let a only a woman identified as Accuser Number Six tell her story.
In a separate motion on March 28, Cosby’s defense team asked O’Neill to exclude incriminating testimony made in a civil deposition in which Cosby admitted to giving women pills and alcohol before sex.
Cosby’s team claims the deposition should be excluded because “the testimony, even if taken out of context, did not and could not, apply to Ms. Constand or Accuser Number Six, and is only prior bad acts evidence.”
Cosby is represented by Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa. McMonagle is a partner at the Philadelphia firm McMonagle, Perri, McHugh, & Mishak. Agrusa’s firm Liner LLP is in Los Angeles.