Cosby lawyers in final bid to postpone retrial
Bill Cosby's lawyers are expected to make a last-ditch effort to postpone the comedian's sexual assault retrial by pressuring the judge to step aside after losing their bid to overturn his ruling allowing up to five additional accusers to testify.
The defence first demanded Judge Steven O'Neill recuse himself last week, arguing he could be seen as biased because his wife is a social worker who has described herself as an "advocate for assault victims".
Now the retooled defence team, led by former Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, is set to challenge O'Neill in his Philadelphia courtroom at a final pre-trial hearing before jury selection starts on Monday.
The 80-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested former athletics administrator Andrea Constand in 2004. O'Neill presided over Cosby's first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year.
The retrial could be delayed indefinitely if he bows out. The judge's wife, Deborah O'Neill, is a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania and coordinates a team that cares for student sexual assault victims.
Mr Cosby's lawyers said that last year she gave money to a group linked to an organisation planning a protest outside the retrial.
They also want Mr O'Neill to make critical rulings to bolster their case that Constand is a money-grubbing liar.
Mr Cosby's lawyers want to call a witness who says Constand told her she was not assaulted but could make up allegations to sue and get money, and they want jurors to hear how much Cosby paid her in a 2006 civil settlement.
They are also still fighting Mr O'Neill's ruling allowing as many as five additional accusers to testify.
Pennsylvania's Superior Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal over Mr O'Neill's decision not to let Cosby's lawyers immediately challenge his ruling.
Prosecutors have chosen model Janice Dickinson as one of the women they plan to have testify. She alleges Mr Cosby drugged and raped her in Lake Tahoe in 1982.