Cosby Trial Gears Up With Jury Selection in Pennsylvania
May 19, 2017
University of Arizona Law’s Christopher Robertson, associate dean for research and innovation and professor of law, was interviewed by NBC News for a piece covering the upcoming jury selection for the Bill Cosby trial, which highlighted the issues that will arise when selecting prospective jurors in the high-profile case.
Bill Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. The trial is set to start on June 5 in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Robertson shared how unreliable people are at assessing their ability to be impartial. “Jurors almost always say yes. It’s an impossible question to ask. It’s scientifically junk,” he said.
Robertson’s jury research shows how jurors exposed to negative material before trial are more than twice as likely to find the defendant liable. In Robertson’s study, those jurors also imposed nine times as much damages for pain and suffering.
"People suffer from optimism," Robertson said. "They think, 'Everyone else is biased but not me.’”
In the Cosby case, the media exposure has been heightened, and the risk of bias is complex.
Cosby was one of the nation’s biggest stars, which could cause potential jurors to feel “warmly and trusting” of him. However, some might feel otherwise, after hearing about the more than 50 women accusing him of everything from groping to rape.