Will the “MeToo” movement sink Bill Cosby at his new trial? That’s what his attorneys fear, at least if the court lets 19 other accusers testify. “The purpose and obvious effect would just be to enrage the jury, this time with more prejudicial impact from what goes on outside the courtroom from the Me Too (environment),” Cosby attorney Becky James said today during a second day of pretrial hearings in Norristown, PA.
James made “Me Too” a key component of her reasoning for why the additional Cosby accusers shouldn’t be allowed to testify, also bringing up how none of the other allegations have been proven in court, and that many of the other accusers didn’t go public until after main accuser Andrea Constand. Judge Steven O’Neill O’Neill has said he will wait to make a ruling on whether any other accusers will be eligible.
The court has sent out 3,500 notices for potential jurors ahead of jury selection now scheduled to begin March 29. O’Neill and Cosby’s defense team discussed the possibility of the trial lasting from two weeks to a month; the first trial lasted about a week, with another week of jury deliberations.
The first criminal trial against Cosby for the alleged 2004 rape of the then-Temple University employee Constand ended in a mistrial in June after more than 50 hours of deliberation by the jury.
James on Tuesday brought up references to “MeToo” on at least three occasions during the nearly two hours she responded to the prosecution’s motion from yesterday to allow they additional accusers. She argued that last year stories from other accusers were “ancient accusations” and would unfairly harm Cosby even more this year. “They are more prejudicial because of the environment today,” she said.
O’Neill didn’t buy her argument. After James said, “There’s no way we’ll get a jury who hasn’t heard these accusations against many celebrities,” he replied, “Let me stop you before (you get) where you’re going. The actual jurors, or the pool?…You can’t speak to the climate of the 12 people who will decide this case.”
O’Neill once again addressed Cosby, in the Montgomery County courtroom for a second day, asking him whether he needed a break after the hearing had gone on for more than two hours without a recess. But at other times he got snippy with Cosby’s defense. At one point, while arguing against letting other accusers testify, James brought up a case that hadn’t been cited as precedential in Pennsylvania. O’Neill lashed out, telling her that as an out-of-state attorney she needed to be careful.
Cosby’s defense team continued its attacks against the prosecution. A day after accusing Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele and his staff of misconduct, attorney Tom Mesereau addressed the media with a brief statement.
“We know the prosecutors like to talk to the press, but we’re not going to respond in kind,” he said. “This course is going to be tried in the courtroom. Not the media.” Then he walked away.
The prosecution has not addressed reporters during the last two days of hearings and did not give statements to the media until last year’s trial ended.
As O’Neill mentioned, this year’s trial could last longer than the first, particularly if multiple accusers are allowed to testify.
“This case,” James said, “is only about one thing: What happened between Mr. Cosby and Ms. Constand on one night.”