Race has reared its head in jury selection in the sexual assault retrial of comedian Bill Cosby.
On Wednesday, prior to a female African-American juror entering the courtroom, prosecutors appeared to have objected despite the woman having completed her pre-selection requirements.
When she affirmatively answered the judge’s questions as to whether she could be fair and impartial — a question that many of the overwhelmingly white panel responded negatively — prosecutors still asked that she be stricken — or barred from selecting.
Defense Attorney Kathleen Bliss immediately objected, citing a law that prohibits discrimination during jury selection.
Perhaps, insulting were the words of Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden, an African American, who argued that the defense had already secured “two black jurors.”
That insinuation appeared to suggest that prosecutors have already given Cosby’s team “their token black jurors” and they cannot expect anything further.
The statement outraged the one African-American spectator and African-American members of Cosby’s team.
Cosby, 80, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault that stems from an incident with former Temple University Employee Andrea Constand more than 14 years ago. The comedian, who paid Constand a $3.5 million civil settlement in 2005 after former District Attorney Bruce Castor found that Constand was not credible and the case had no evidence, has maintained his innocence.
He could face 10 years in prison for each count.
So far, eight panelists have been selected, including six white jurors and two African Americans.