Cosby's legal team is attempting to have Judge Steven O'Neill recused because his wife is an advocate for sexual assault victims.
Disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby has launched a bid to have the judge overseeing his sexual assault re-trial recused, because his wife directs a support group helping victims of sexual assault.
Lawyers for the former comedian and TV presenter filed a 239-page motion on Thursday (March 22nd), requesting that the court assign a different judge in the place of Judge Steven O’Neill, who presided over the original 2004 trial on charges that he drugged and raped former Temple employee Andrea Constant.
It hinges on the fact that O’Neill’s wife Deborah is an advocate for sexual assault victims, and the co-ordinator of the Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention program at the University of Pennsylvania. This, according to the filing, causes a “clear appearance of partiality” and affects Cosby’s ability to have a fair trial.
Bill Cosby is seeking to have the judge in his re-trial replaced
While the motion is considered, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele responded quickly to Cosby’s team’s attempt to have the judge removed, calling it “a thinly-veiled attempt to delay and pollute the jury pool.”
Indeed, the legal landscape on this issue does not seem to be very favourable to Cosby’s team’s case, as the standard for removal of a judge for potential conflict of interest is very high in Pennsylvania, with judges almost always allowed to decide for themselves whether they are able to be impartial on a case.
“Pennsylvania has long been very clear that a judge decides the recusal issue himself or herself, and that those decisions are not overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion," another spokesperson for the D.A. said outside the courthouse Thursday.
The development comes as two more days of pre-trial hearings are set to take place, on March 29th and 30th, before jury selection on April 2nd.