Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial ended in a mistrial Saturday, after jurors told the judge they remained unable to reach a verdict.
Question: Why was a mistrial declared?
Answer: Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill dismissed the panel of seven men and five women because they had deliberated more than 52 hours but could not reach an unanimous decision. Before issuing his ruling, the judge asked each juror to stand and confirm individually that they were “hopelessly deadlocked” on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Cosby in an alleged 2004 attack on Andrea Constand. They had first reported being deadlocked on Thursday.
“I remind everyone that this is not vindication or victory,” O’Neill said. “A mistrial is merely the justice system at work.”
Q: Is this the end of case?
A: No. District Attorney Kevin R. Steele immediately told the judge he would retry the case.
“There was no pause or hesitation about that,” Steele said later at a news conference. “We’re moving forward.”
In declaring the mistrial, O’Neill reminded Cosby: “You remain charged and remain on bail in this county for three counts of aggravated indecent assault.”
Q: When will the new trial begin?
A: O’Neill indicated that he would like to set a retrial date within 120 days. But it was unclear when the trial would be, or whether it could be delayed by pre-trial motions.
Under Pennsylvania law, retrials must be within one year of the mistrial.
“The judge is the one that’s going to dictate all the dates here,” Steele said. “When he tells us to be there, we’ll be there and we’ll have our witnesses there and ready to go.”
Q: What was the split among the jurors?
A: That remained unknown Saturday. Jurors were not polled on the reason for their deadlock or the split among them, and their names remain sealed.
Before dismissing the jurors, O’Neill encouraged them not to speak to reporters about the details of their deliberations, which he said could impact any retrial.
Q: What factors will play into launching a retrial?
A: The retrial promised by Steele would present challenges unique to Cosby’s case. This jury was selected in Pittsburgh and then sequestered in Norristown after defense lawyers asked for a more diverse jury pool than what they would get in Montgomery County, which they complained was tainted by pretrial publicity.
Starting over, it is unclear if lawyers would return to Allegheny County to choose another jury.
Q: How much will the retrial cost?
A: The cost of Cosby’s trial is unknown. The bill footed by Montgomery County includes overtime for sheriff’s deputies to provide extra security and safeguard jurors, as well as the cost of transporting and sequestering jurors for two weeks. But Steele said the cost did not factor into his decision to to pursue a retrial.
“You can’t put a price tag on justice,” Steele said. “And if you do, you’re saying that because somebody is wealthy or famous that they don’t deserve the same kind of justice that everybody else does.”