Bill Cosby’s next trial will be much more than a rerun



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The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.Some things are the same: the famous defendant and his key accuser, the prosecutors, the judge and the Pennsylvania courtroom.But the second trial of Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges is shaping up to be far different from the first, which ended in a mistrial last June with a hopelessly deadlocked jury that could not agree on whether “America’s Dad” drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.Here’s a look at how the retrial, scheduled to get off the ground with jury selection on April 2, will be a departure from the legal drama that unfolded last spring.The accusersDozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, allegations he vigorously denies. For the last trial, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill allowed just one woman other than Constand to testify: Kelley Johnson, who worked for his talent agent and says the star drugged and molested her in 1996. Janice Dickinson is one of eight Bill Cosby accusers who could testify at his retrial. Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images fileBut last week, the judge dealt the defense a major blow, ruling that prosecutors can call five more accusers to the stand to demonstrate a pattern of behavior. The district attorney can choose the five from a group of eight women whose allegations date from 1982 to 1996.”It’s like swinging at ghosts in the courtroom,” said prominent Philadelphia lawyer William Brennan, who has been following the case.Johnson is among the eight potential witnesses, thought it’s unclear if prosecutors will put her back on the stand. Another possibility: former model Janice Dickinson, who has accused Cosby of drugging and raping her in 1982 and is currently suing him for defamation over his lawyers’ claim that she lied.The defense teamCosby hired new lawyers for his retrial, starting with high-profile Los Angeles attorney Tom Mesereau, best known for defending Michael Jackson against molestation charges and his work on the Robert Blake case. Joining him are other out-of-towners, including former federal prosecutor Kathleen Bliss and appeals expert Becky James.It’s a big change from the first trial, when a a local pit bull, Brian McMonagle, anchored the team, delivering dramatic opening and closing statements and subjecting witnesses to tough cross-examinations. His co-counsel was Angela Agrusa, who was representing Cosby in civil matters and was given a curiously large role during the trial considering that she had never tried a criminal case.No explanation was given for why McMonagle was not returning for the do-over.The #MeToo movementIn January, during an outing to a Philadelphia restaurant that the media was invited to cover, Cosby shook a female reporter’s hand and then said, “Please don’t put me on #MeToo.”But, legal experts say, it’s no joking matter that his second trial comes on the heels of a transformative series of sexual misconduct scandals that have empowered women to go public, left powerful men in disgrace and encouraged the public to believe victims. The second trial will play out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. Jung Yeon-je / AFP – Getty ImagesCosby’s team even cited the wave of allegations in arguing that past accusers should not be allowed to testify. “With that atmosphere it’s going to be hard enough to get the jury to focus on the case itself,” James argued at a hearing this month.Philadelphia jury expert Melissa Gomez agrees, saying that in recent months, the public has gotten used to women coming forward with long-buried allegations.”I think now is a more dangerous time for Cosby to be on trial,” she said.The witnessesThe defense barely put on a case last time, opting to call just one witness, a law enforcement official who was used to put some documents on the record. But it appears that the team is planning for a more robust defense this spring. Andrea Constand is the main prosecution witness. Who will the defense call? Matt Rourke / AFP/Getty Images filePaperwork filed in recent weeks names two potential out-of-state witnesses, one of whom had dinner with Constand and Cosby in November 2003 at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, where Cosby was performing. Casino executive Tom Cantone could be grilled about the dinner, the circumstances under which she later went to his hotel room, and whether her testimony that the bed was the only place for her to sit rings true. The second is Constand’s friend Sherri Williams, who is likely to be asked about conversations they may have had about Cosby.Cosby’s lawyers have also indicated that they want to call Marguerite Jackson, who worked at Temple University at the same time as Constand and who claims that Constand once told her that she could accuse a celebrity of drugging and abusing her to get money.Judge O’Neill would not let Jackson testify at the last trial for reasons that are still under seal. He has not decided if she can do so now or whether the defense can mention her in its opening statement, and that question will be the subject of a pretrial skirmish this week.The juryThe jury that couldn’t reach a verdict last year was chosen in Allegheny County, about 300 miles away from the courthouse, after the defense complained that the population in the Philadelphia suburbs would be swayed by headlines.But the trial was such big news across the country that the argument doesn’t hold much water any longer. This time, the defense did not object to picking the jury from Montgomery County, outside Philadelphia.”Montgomery County is much more diverse, racially and economically,” said Gomez, who is the author of “Jury Trials Outside In.”If more black jurors are seated for the second trial, that could be a boon to Cosby, seen by some as a barrier-busting hero. But Gomez said it could also backfire if those jurors feel betrayed by the entertainer.Many of the jurors from the first trial declined to discuss deliberations. One told reporters that he doubted Constand’s account, noting that she had gone to Cosby’s house in a midriff-baring top. Another juror said he thought Cosby was caught “redhanded” by his own words in a deposition.Breaking News EmailsGet breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.Trial lengthTestimony in 2017 lasted six days — and the jurors spent more hours deliberating before throwing in the towel than they did listening to witnesses. Both sides are already girding for a longer battle this time. At a hearing last month, O’Neill said he planned to tell potential jurors that they should plan to be in his courtroom for “easily a month.”Breaking News EmailsGet breaking news alerts and special reports. 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