Bill Cosby judge says jurors' identities can be released

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania judge who presided over Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial is weighing whether to make public the identities of the jurors who deadlocked in the case.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke). Andrew Wyatt raises his fist as Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial was declared in Norristown, Pa., Saturday, June 17, 2017. It is not yet clear why jurors could not reach a verdict, or how close they came.

The woman whose police complaint led to Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial is thanking supporters in the wake of the jury deadlock.

O'Neill said Tuesday. "We just don't know".

"My responsibility is to provide for a fair and impartial trial", Judge Steven P. O'Neill repeatedly said Tuesday, three days after he declared a mistrial in the Cosby case and dismissed the jury pulled from Allegheny County.

"But they can agree they want a fair, impartial trial, and both of them feel it would have that effect."District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said that while picking a jury would still be possible after releasing the names of the jurors, it would make the process more hard".

Cosby's prosecutors argued in court filings that "the release of the names of the jurors from the recent mistrial. may make the parties' ability to select a (new) fair and impartial jury more hard".

District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Cosby's lawyers have battled since the December 30, 2015, arrest of the actor and comedian on charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a Temple University employee at his Cheltenham home in 2004.

In his instructions to the jurors prior to dismissing them, the judge advised them they did not have to talk to the media, particularly about the details of their more than 52 hours of deliberations, said Segal.

Andrea Constand in a tweet Tuesday said she is "eternally grateful for the messages" she has received in recent days.

The hearing came a day after one alternate juror - Mike McCloskey, of Pittsburgh - became the first to publicly discuss the case, doing so in a phone call to a Pittsburgh radio station.

But Eli Segal of Pepper Hamilton LLP, who represented the media organizations, pointed to prosecutors' and defense lawyers' own words in arguing for the release of the names, including an extensive press conference Steele's office organized after the mistrial decision Saturday and a scathing statement from Cosby's wife, Camille, that a publicist read from the courthouse steps. That intense spotlight, and its impact, was one reason the judge had granted a defense motion to move jury selection away from Montgomery County, despite it being the jurisdiction where prosecutors said Cosby had drugged and molested Andrea Constand in 2004. "Further, future jurors will be reluctant to speak up or to say what they think when deliberating if they fear that what they say during deliberations will not be kept secret". They believe any comments jurors make to the media might also make it hard to find an unbiased jury pool.

"Over 130 media credentials were issued", he said.

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  • Salvatore Jensen