PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In a case like Bill Cosby’s, pretrial publicity is unavoidable.
Even if the law allowed for the case to be moved across the country, you would think that still wouldn’t solve the problem of someone reading or hearing about it.
Criminal procedure expert and Duquesne University School of Law professor Wes Oliver explained the problem with finding a fair and impartial jury in Montgomery County is much more complex than just media coverage.
“The DA, who ran successfully for office in 2015, ran on a platform of – ‘I will prosecute Bill Cosby,’” said Oliver.
Oliver believes many people in Montgomery County either care about the case or have particular biases about the case because of the hotly-contested race for district attorney, where former DA Bruce Castor’s promise not to prosecute Cosby became a reason Cosby’s lawyers cited in asking for the charges to be dismissed.
“I was in the room for one of those hearings and you had one of the world’s best-known celebrities sitting there almost as a bit character that no one was really looking at Bill Cosby, everybody was looking at Kevin Steele and Bruce Castor and the clear animosity between these two men,” said Oliver.
Oliver says it is safe to assume the jury pool in Allegheny County will have had the same amount of media exposure as a jury from Montgomery County.
What could very well mean the key difference in ensuring a fair trial, is finding people without personal connections or feelings tied to the inception of the case.
“The story of how Cosby came to be prosecuted and how you feel about that is very personal for a lot of people in Montgomery County, and it may well be hard to get people who aren’t in some way connected to those very hot personality disputes that drove the DA’s race,” said Oliver.