Bill Cosby’s fate could turn on a pivotal court decision expected next week

March 2, 2018

ABC News
By Chris Francescani and Linsey Davis

The Pennsylvania judge at the center of the criminal retrial of comedian Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges could rule as soon as early next week on a critical motion that may reshape the Commonwealth’s case as it heads into jury selection later this month.

Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who presided over Cosby’s first trial — which ended last summer in a hung jury — is expected to make a pivotal decision after hearing opposing arguments in pretrial hearings on Monday and Tuesday on whether to allow some of the more than 50 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault to testify.


Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Mark B. Sheppard concurred.

“It’s the whole case,” said Sheppard, president of the Pennsylvania Associations of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Sheppard stressed that he was speaking solely for himself, not as an officer of the organization.

He said that it’s especially tricky rulings like this one that weigh heaviest on criminal court judges.

“It is a very difficult decision, no matter what anybody says, and no matter what limiting instruction you give to the jury, if that evidence comes in, then he gets convicted,” Sheppard said. “In this hyper-partisan and raw environment, how hard is it for a judge to make a decision like this? I think it’s exceedingly difficult.”


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