After two days of deliberations in which they reached verdicts on nearly every issue presented, jurors in a civil trial who were deciding on the sexual abuse allegations against Bill Cosby will have to start from scratch on Monday.
Late in the court day on Friday, the Los Angeles County jury reached an agreement on whether Cosby had sexually assaulted author Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16 in 1975, and whether Huth deserved any damages. . In all, they answered eight of the nine questions on their verdict form, all but one asking whether Cosby acted in a way that required punitive damages.
Judge Craig Karlan, who promised a juror when she agreed to serve that she could leave after Friday for a prior appointment, decided, over Cosby’s lawyers’ objections, to accept and read the verdict on the questions the jury had. answered. But he had to change tack when deputies from the Santa Monica Courthouse showed up and demanded that he clean the courthouse. The court has a mandatory closing time of 4:30 pm because of the lack of budget for overtime for deputies
Karlan declined to demand that the outgoing juror, who had been chosen as foreman, return on Monday, so the jurors will have to start over with an alternate in her place.
“I won’t go back on my word,” Karlan said.
It was a bizarre end to an awkward day of jury deliberations. It began with a note to the judge about what he called a “personality issue” between two of the jurors that was making his job difficult.
After calling them to court and getting them to agree that all jurors would be heard in discussions, the jurors resumed but had a constant barrage of questions about verdict form issues that the judge and lawyers had to discuss and answer. . One question was about how to calculate the damage.
After the lunch break, Cosby’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean asked for a mistrial over a photo taken by a member of Cosby’s team that showed a juror next to a Cosby accuser who was sitting in the audience watching the show. judgment.
Karlan said the photo did not indicate that any conversation had taken place and quickly rejected the motion to dismiss the trial, obtaining assurances from the juror in question, after the entire jury, that no one had discussed the case with them.
The accuser, Los Angeles artist Lily Bernard, who has filed her own lawsuit against Cosby in New Jersey, has denied speaking to jurors.
“I never spoke to any jurors, ever,” Bernard told the judge from his courtroom seat. “I would never do anything to compromise this case. I don’t even look at them.”
Karlan struggled to overcome obstacles and get jurors to deliberate as long as possible, and he kept lawyers, reporters, and court clerks in the courtroom ready to flee once the verdict was read, but was ultimately fruitless.
Jurors began deliberating Thursday morning after a two-week trial.
Cosby, 84, who was released from prison when his criminal conviction in Pennsylvania was overturned nearly a year ago, did not attend. He denied any sexual contact with Huth in a 2015 video deposition clip shown to jurors. The denial was repeated throughout the trial by his spokesperson and his lawyer.
In contentious closing arguments, Bonjean asked jurors to look beyond the public allegations against Cosby and only consider the evidence from the trial, which she said doesn’t come close to proving Huth’s case.
Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, told jurors that Cosby should be held responsible for the harm he had caused his client.
The Associated Press does not normally name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Huth and Bernard did.
Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton