Bill Cosby's defence lawyers win key rulings from retrial judge

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Bill Cosby's lawyers are alleging a member of the prosecution team made a disparaging remark after prosecutors removed a black woman from consideration as a prospective juror in the comedian's sexual assault retrial. The judge said he didn't believe the prosecution had any "discriminatory intent" but halted the third day of jury selection to consider the defence argument.

A black man and black woman have been chosen for the jury over the past two days, joining six white men and women who have been selected so far.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will have to select six alternates.

The comedian was charged with three charges of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.

Less than a year after his trial ended in a hung jury, Bill Cosby will again stand trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Judge Steven O'Neill, clearly annoyed by the defense's objections, said he didn't see a reason to stop the selection process.

When Bliss made her argument, citing previous case laws, she concluded by saying that after the juror had been dismissed, a member of the defense team heard a member of the prosecution make a remark indicative of racism.

As Wednesday's (Thursday NZT) session got underway, a judge gave The Associated Press and other media organisations more access to jury selection.

Cosby's first trial, last June, ended when the former jury deadlocked following almost 60 hours of deliberation.

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Castor's lawsuit said Cosby paid Constand "well into the millions of dollars" in a civil settlement. The camera shows the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors who are being questioned as a group. He said the encounter was consensual.

The majority of potential jurors summoned for the first trial said they had heard of the case, and almost half reported that they already had a fixed opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence. Prosecutors and Cosby's lawyers nevertheless found him acceptable.

A dozen people were invited back for individual questioning Wednesday as the prosecution and defense look to fill 11 remaining spots.

Defense lawyers had asked O'Neill to permit Jackson to testify that Constand, a former co-worker, once told her she could profit by accusing a famous person of sexual assault.

"I couldn't have anticipated this", she said, and then handed out a prepared brief.

Montgomery County President Judge Thomas DelRicci said he would schedule a hearing on the news media's request. During another alternate's individual questioning, she said she had previously formed the opinion that Cosby was guilty, but she would be able to base her opinion of the defendant's innocence exclusively on the evidence presented in the case. The first trial end in a mistrial last June when the jury could not reach a verdict.

O'Neill previously gave a boost to the prosecution, ruling they can call five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby - the former TV star once revered as "America's Dad" for his family sitcom The Cosby Show - as a serial predator.

All but one of the people in the initial group of potential jurors said they were aware of the #MeToo movement or the allegations it spurred against powerful entertainment figures.

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

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