Judge Releases Names of Jurors in Bill Cosby's Sexual Assault Trial

Lawyers for more than a dozen media outlets argued at a hearing Tuesday to make jurors' names public

The judge who presided over Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial on Wednesday ordered the public release of the identities of the jurors who deadlocked in the case.

Judge Steve O'Neill granted a request by by a dozen media organizations, including NBC News, to release the juror's name under the condition that they would not publicly divulge what other jurors said during deliberations.

O'Neill cited the media's First Amendment rights and Supreme Court precedent in ordering the release of the names. But he forbade jurors from talking about what other members of the jury said in the deliberating room or from revealing any votes cast in the case.

"Any disclosure of what was said and done during deliberations in this case would give a chilling effect upon the future jurors in this case and their ability to deliberate freely," he wrote. "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."

Lawyers for several media outlets argued at a hearing Tuesday that jurors' names should almost always be public to ensure transparency in the judicial process.

Lawyer Eli Segal, arguing on behalf of the Philadelphia Media Network and other outlets, said jurors should be free to discuss their backgrounds, the sequestration process and their individual views, even if — under O'Neill's order in the case — they do not disclose the jury split or other jurors' comments.

"This is a critical part of the justice system," Segal argued. "We are entitled to them."

O'Neill, who has already had the case for nearly two years, sounded skeptical. He plans to retry the case within four months.

The jurors named in O'Neill's release are Joseph Bayer, Clarence Davis, Robert Dugan, Kathy Griffin, Daniel Main, Michael Marchetti, Michael Mccloskey, Jennifer Miller, Christine Moto, Clifton Omeis, Melanie Prior, Anthony Rabinovitz, Jonathan Tennyson, Jamayia Thomas, Alexander Truzzi, Nicholas Ward, Kristen Williams and Vincent Wood. No further information was provided in the release.

Cosby, who turns 80 next month, is accused of drugging and molesting a woman at his home in 2004. Dozens of other women have also accused him of sexual assault, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

"When we were selecting a jury, we were very adamant about their privacy," the judge said at the hour-long hearing. "Just because they have signed up to do their civic duty in this case should not necessarily impose a lot of media upon them."

Both prosecutors and defense lawyers opposed the media's request. Like the judge, they worry about finding 18 unbiased jurors for the retrial of the case, given the worldwide coverage of the comedian's first trial. Hundreds of journalists descended on the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown for the trial.

The initial jury was selected from the Pittsburgh area and spent two weeks sequestered 300 miles from home. The seven men and five women deliberated for more than 52 hours without reaching a verdict on any of the three counts.

Also Tuesday, the woman whose police complaint led to the trial thanked supporters.

"Thank you for the outpouring of love & kindness & support. I am eternally grateful for the messages I have received in recent days," Andrea Constand said in a tweet.

Constand, 44, of Toronto, met Cosby through his alma mater, Temple University. Cosby has called their sexual encounter consensual.

Alternate juror Mike McCloskey said Monday he was "ridiculously sick" when he found out the main jury couldn't reach a verdict. He says he "probably" would have voted to convict, though he did not take part in the deliberations. He found the taped phone call played in court between Cosby and Constand's mother, in which Cosby described the sexual encounter with her daughter, particularly disturbing.

Pennsylvania law allows the public release of jurors' names, but judges have discretion to keep them a secret under certain conditions. McCloskey first came forward to a Pittsburgh radio station.

O'Neill advised jurors when the trial ended Saturday that they didn't need to discuss the case.

"It can never be clearer that if you speak up, you could be chilling the justice system in the future if jurors are needed in this case," O'Neill told them.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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