Bill Cosby Jury Is Set After a Dispute Over the Racial Makeup

Bill Cosby Jury Is Set After a Dispute Over the Racial Makeup


Kathleen Bliss, an attorney for Mr. Cosby, also accused prosecutors of making a racially offensive comment that was overheard by a member of the defense team. Ms. Bliss made a so-called Batson claim — in which a lawyer objects to a challenge brought by the other side, claiming that it was motivated by race, sex or ethnicity — forcing the judge to suspend jury selection to hear arguments.

“She passed every single stage as a fair and impartial juror,” Ms. Bliss said. “There’s no other explanation other than her race.”

After the prosecution’s rejection of the woman — known as a “peremptory strike” — Ms. Bliss told the court that a prosecutor had been overheard by a nonlawyer member of the defense team making a remark that she said reflected “racial animus.”

The Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, dismissed Ms. Bliss’s Batson challenge as “ludicrous,” saying that prosecutors had agreed to both the black jurors to emerge from the jury pool.

“We have had two available African-Americans for jury selection in this case,” Mr. Steele said. “We had gladly taken both of those seemingly very responsible people, and they are on our jury panel.”

Mr. Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault for an encounter with his accuser, Andrea Constand, at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004. He denies the charges and says the sexual contact was consensual.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin on Monday.



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