Prosecutors Fight Cosby Bid to Query Potential Jurors

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – Prosecutors in Bill Cosby’s upcoming sexual assault case are objecting to a defense motion asking to prescreen up to 2,000 potential jurors.

In a lengthy response to a defense motion filed last week, prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pa., also lambasted a defense request that jurors be selected well in advance of the June 5 trial to give them time to prepare to be sequestered far from home, and they objected to a request from Cosby’s attorneys to increase the number of peremptory strikes to 20.

The prospective jurors will all be residents of Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, which is located about 300 miles west of the site of Cosby’s trial in Norristown.

Cosby’s attorneys claim in a March 20 court filing that “Beginning jury selection well in advance of the start date of the trial will allow potential jurors to adjust to the necessity of sequestration,” the motion states.

In his answer, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele says despite the defendant’s “forecast that jury selection could take two weeks” he believes it can be completed in an “expeditious fashion.”

To support his contention, Steele cited last year’s trail against former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, where jury selection in Montgomery County lasted “less than one day” after a “venire of approximately 100 individuals were called.”

Cosby, who turns 80 in July, is being prosecuted in Montgomery County because his accuser, Andrea Constand, claims to have been assaulted at the comedian’s home there.

Constand met Cosby about a decade ago while working at Temple University where the Cosby was a trustee. She is the only one of Cosby’s many accusers to hurdle the statute of limitations.

In his March 27 response to Cosby’s motion, Steele argues the comedian is entitled to the same treatment as all other defendants, “to utilize standard questionnaires along with in-court examination.”

Cosby’s attorneys privately submitted a lengthy questionnaire “that appears to be aimed exclusively at gathering information to facilitate his exercises of peremptory strikes,” the answer explains.

Cosby’s attorney’s claim the sole reason for the questionnaire is because of the high-profile status of the case.

Steele believes, however, that the questionnaire will be used only to learn some jurors’ fixed opinions of guilt or innocence. The prosecutor believes that Cosby is “not entitled to, nor does he deserve, anything more or anything less than any other citizen facing criminal charges.”

Judge Steven O’Neill will hear each side on its motion during a pretrial hearing on April 3.

Cosby’s lawyers filed another motion Tuesday, asking 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.”

Accuser Number Six is the only other woman other than Constand who is being allowed to testify about her sexual encounter with Cosby. Prosecutors had wanted many such women to testify.

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