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Allegheny

5 things to know about jury selection for Cosby trial

Ben Schmitt
| Sunday, May 21, 2017, 1:48 p.m.
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bill Cosby walks into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh for the first day of jury selection on Monday, May 22, 2017.
In this April 3, 2017, file photo, Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Cosby says he doesn't expect to testify at his Pennsylvania sexual assault trial. spoke to Sirius radio host Michael Smerconish in an interview being broadcast Tuesday. Smerconish says he agreed to air an uncut, 82-minute conversation between Cosby and his daughters in exchange for the interview.
In this April 3, 2017, file photo, Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Cosby says he doesn't expect to testify at his Pennsylvania sexual assault trial. spoke to Sirius radio host Michael Smerconish in an interview being broadcast Tuesday. Smerconish says he agreed to air an uncut, 82-minute conversation between Cosby and his daughters in exchange for the interview.
In this April 3, 2017, file photo, Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Cosby says he doesn't expect to testify at his Pennsylvania sexual assault trial. spoke to Sirius radio host Michael Smerconish in an interview being broadcast Tuesday. Smerconish says he agreed to air an uncut, 82-minute conversation between Cosby and his daughters in exchange for the interview.
In this April 3, 2017, file photo, Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Cosby says he doesn't expect to testify at his Pennsylvania sexual assault trial. spoke to Sirius radio host Michael Smerconish in an interview being broadcast Tuesday. Smerconish says he agreed to air an uncut, 82-minute conversation between Cosby and his daughters in exchange for the interview.

The latest incarnation of the Bill Cosby show premieres in Pittsburgh this week, if only for a short while.

Starting Monday, a judge and attorneys from suburban Philadelphia will be in Allegheny County to select a jury to hear evidence against Cosby in his sexual assault trial.

Selected jurors will travel more than 300 miles to Montgomery County for the trial. The legal proceedings are the result of what is known as a change of venire — using jurors from another region — instead of a complete change of venue.

Cosby's attorneys previously said their client could not receive a fair trial in Montgomery County. They requested a jury pool from an urban center with “more diverse and opposing viewpoints.”

A total of 12 jurors and six alternates from Allegheny County will be chosen from a pool of about 125. The selection process in front of Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O'Neill will take place in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh.

Here are five things to know about the case:

The allegations

Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a Temple University women's basketball team manager in 2004. The incident leading to the charges allegedly occurred in Cosby's suburban Philadelphia home. He is free on $100,000 bond and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Expect to see Cosby

Cosby, 79, who played affable TV dad Cliff Huxtable in the 1980s, is expected to attend the proceedings. He is expected to enter the courthouse daily through the courtyard. Like everyone else, he'll go through security before attending jury selection.

What kind of questions should potential jurors expect?

Finding a juror who never heard of Cosby is going to be next to impossible. Instead, his lawyers will most likely focus on ways to glean potential bias and impartiality from the jury pool.

Pack a bag if you are selected

The 12 jurors and six alternates will travel about 300 miles east to Montgomery County for the trial, which is scheduled to begin June 5. They will be sequestered in hotel rooms for the duration of the trial. The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

Expect a media circus

There's enough media interest that court officials have divided days among news outlets allowed to cover jury selection. For example, the Tribune-Review is permitted to cover jury selection on Monday, but not Tuesday. Other media organizations include The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post and The Associated Press. Media members are being hit with a lot of directives from court officials, such as the following: “DO NOT PRESS YOUR LUCK TRYING TO USE YOUR PHONE IN THE RESTRICTED AREAS OR IT WILL BE CONFISCATED!” Live-tweeting the proceedings appears to be out of the question.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Bencschmitt.

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