By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—Attorneys representing Bill Cosby are trying to convince Judge Steven O’Neill to dismiss a newly-minted juror, because he proclaimed that the comedian is guilty.
Cosby’s attorneys, prosecutors and O’Neill met Friday during a closed session to discuss the explosive new problem that could delay the start of his trial.
The revelation also comes amid more racial tension as a courtroom observer and a member of Cosby’s team overheard Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Stuart Ryan’ coarse protest to the defense’s concern about the limited number of African Americans in the jury pool.
That situation exploded when Cosby’s attorney Kathleen Bliss challenged prosecutors for striking a potential Black juror who had answered all of the questions that allowed others selected to be found acceptable to serve.
Kristen Feden, an African American lawyer who also serves as an ADA, angrily told the judge that the defense “already has two” Black jurors which triggered outrage from Cosby’s team.
Worst, however, were Ryan’s comments. “I’m tired of this Black sh-t,” Ryan said, according to observers in the courtroom, including an African American woman spectator, Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt, and an assistant.
The comment further enraged the defense, shining a spotlight on the deep racial divide that’s beginning to overshadow the case.
On Friday, Bliss and lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau were livid over comments made by juror No. 11, a White male believed to be in his 40s.
In an affidavit filed late Friday by Cosby’s attorney’s, the juror was said to be overheard by others saying, “I just think he’s guilty, so we can all go home.”
A potential juror, who prosecutors struck without providing a reason, called Cosby attorney Kathleen Bliss’ Henderson, Nevada office to report the incident.
“I reached out to tell them about what I heard because I did not feel it was right, and I wanted to make sure Mr. Cosby has a fair trial,” the woman, who is Black and believed to be in her 30s, wrote in a sworn affidavit on Friday.
The woman was apparently dismissed by prosecutors even before she entered the one-on-one voir dire session with the judge and lawyers.
When she and the group that included juror No. 11 left the holding area, the woman appeared visibly disturbed as she entered an elevator inside the courthouse.
Juror No. 11 had previously noted that he knows or has a relationship with a local detective. In general voir dire, the man claimed he could be fair and impartial, but his alleged comments outside of the courtroom contradict that statement.
Inside the courtroom, juror No. 11 also said he had heard about the case through media reports and that he had not formed a bias opinion.
Prosecutors still selected the juror despite his statements that being sequestered would cause an undue hardship. However, those statements were made during general voir dire in which all potential jurors sit together and hold up their juror number to answer questions.
During one-on-one voir dire, the judge instructs the juror that, although general voir dire is under oath, it’s his or her answers at this stage that count.
Under oath, the juror said he could be fair and impartial.
A source said that if the juror isn’t stricken by the judge, Cosby’s team may move for a mistrial.