By the end of the court on Friday, the Los Angeles County jury had decided if plaintiff Judy Huth had been sexually assaulted by defendant Bill Cosby at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16 in 1975 and if Huth should get any money for it.
Jurors in a civil trial about sexual abuse claims against Bill Cosby will have to start over on Monday. This is because they reached decisions on almost all of the questions they were asked over the past two days.
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By the end of the court on Friday, the Los Angeles County jury had decided if plaintiff Judy Huth had been sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16 in 1975 and if she should get any money for it. On their verdict form, they had answered eight out of nine questions, but not the one that asked if Cosby had done something that should lead to punitive damages.
Judge Craig Karlan told one juror when she agreed to serve that she could leave after Friday because she had something else to do. Over the objections of Cosby’s lawyers, he decided to accept the jury’s answers and read the verdict. But he had to change his plans when Santa Monica Courthouse deputies showed up and told him to leave the courtroom. Because there is no money in the budget for deputies to work overtime, the courthouse has to close at 4:30 p.m.
Karlan didn’t make the foreperson juror, who was leaving, come back on Monday, so the jury will have to start over with a new person in her place.
Karlan said, “I won’t break my promise.”
It was a strange way to end a strange day of jury work. It started with a note to the judge about what he called a “personality issue” between two of the jurors that were making their work hard.
After calling them to the courtroom and getting them to agree that every juror would be heard in discussions, the jurors went back to work, but they kept asking the judge and lawyers questions about their verdict form. One question asked how to figure out the number of damages.
After lunch, Cosby’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean asked for a new trial because a photo taken by a member of Cosby’s team showed a juror standing close to one of Cosby’s accusers who had been sitting in the audience and watching the trial.
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Karlan said that the photo didn’t show that there had been a conversation. He quickly threw out the motion for a mistrial after the juror in question and then the whole jury said that no one had talked to them about the case.
Lily Bernard, an artist from Los Angeles who has also sued Cosby in New Jersey, said she did not talk to any jurors.
“I’ve never talked to a juror,” Bernard told the judge from her seat in the courtroom. “I wouldn’t do anything to put this case in danger. I don’t look at them at all.”
Karlan tried to get around the problems and get the jury to deliberate for as long as possible. He kept lawyers, reporters, and court staff in the courtroom so they would be ready to leave as soon as the verdict was read, but in the end, it didn’t work.
After a two-week trial, the jury began to decide what to do on Thursday morning.
Cosby, who is 84 years old and was let out of prison when his Pennsylvania criminal conviction was overturned almost a year ago, did not show up. In a 2015 video deposition clip shown to the jury, he denied having any sexual contact with Huth. His lawyer and spokesman have said this over and over again during the trial.
Bonjean asked the jury to ignore the public accusations against Cosby and only look at the trial evidence, which she said did not even come close to proving Huth’s case.
Nathan Goldberg, Huth’s lawyer, told the jury that Cosby needed to be punished for hurting his client.
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