Racial Tension Plagues Jury Selection Process In Cosby Sex Assault Trial


By Grace Carr

Race has reached the forefront of the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial.

Defense attorneys sharply accused the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office of engaging in the “systematic exclusion of African Americans” from the jury on Tuesday, reports The Washington Post. Prosecutors vigorously disputed this charge.

With only one black person seated among the first 11 jurors, defense lawyers are accusing prosecutors of keeping blacks off the jury. A new jury pool will be summoned on Wednesday to pick a 12th juror and six alternates. Of the new 100 person pool from Allegheny, Penn. — one of the least diverse places in the U.S. — 16 are black.

The showdown over race underscores the challenge of selecting a jury. Tuesday night ended with 11 selections: seven white men, three white women, and one black woman.

The trial will take place in Norristown in Montgomery County, where Cosby invited Andrea Constand to his home in 2004.

Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who consulted for the defense on the O.J. Simpson trial, argued “celebrity-obsessed” African American men could be ideal jurors for Cosby, according to The Washington Post.

It took more than 10 hours of feuding to seat the first African American juror, selected midafternoon Tuesday. Prosecutors fought vigorously to keep her off the jury. The hullabaloo began when defense attorney Brian McMonagle let slip that a potential female juror is a former Pittsburgh police detective who had been arrested, calling her credibility into question. Judge O’Neill sent the African American woman home.

In a radio interview a few days before jury selection began, Cosby blamed racism for the sexual assault scandal that has ensued. The defense cites legal experts who say Cosby will benefit from having blacks on the jury.

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