Bill Cosby’s lawyers asked an Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, judge on Monday to summon thousands of people for jury pool selection for the actor’s upcoming sexual assault trial.
The Inquirer Daily News reports that Cosby’s attorney pointed out that given the defendant’s popularity and high-profile case, potential jurors should go through a comprehensive screening process, starting with mailing a questionnaire form to at least 2,000 potential jurors. If the judge allows it, the questionnaires would go out in early May.
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According to former prosecutor Dennis McAndrews, mailing out forms to potential jurors are rarely approved, even in large-scale trials such as Cosby’s. He also indicated that he’s never once heard of screening up to 2,000 potential jurors for an upcoming case, regardless of how famous the plaintiff is.
“It’s generally viewed by judges in Pennsylvania as unnecessary, and also opening up the potential for extraordinary investigation of jurors beyond what is typically conducted prior to trial….In Pennsylvania, I’ve always seen numbers far lower than that as being adequate to obtain an impartial jury”
Cosby’s lawyers see it as way to save time by eliminating people who wouldn’t be selected in person. The questionnaire form consists of questions about views and opinions on Cosby, whether the potential juror has an opinion on Cosby’s allegations (given they’ve heard about the allegations), and whether they are close to anyone whose been victim of sexual assault.
“The extraordinarily widespread media attention that this matter and other accusations against Mr. Cosby has received makes it a greater challenge to identify and select impartial prospective jurors,” Cosby’s lawyers wrote.
Cosby is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, in 2004. The defendant stated that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in his home in Cheltenham. Constand is among numerous women that accused The Cosby Show star of sexual assault.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill scheduled the trial to start on June 5. So far there’s no word as to whether he approved the lawyers requests for pre-screening.
[Feature Photo: AP/Matt Slocum, File]