A courtroom squabble between attorneys erupted on Tuesday in Norristown, Pennsylvania, for Bill Cosby's pre-trial hearing.Hours before heading into the courtroom, the 79-year-old actor/comedian who is being charged for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, unsuccessfully diffused mounting tension by greeting security officers on his way to the hearing by joking: "Don't tase me, bro." That did nothing for what followed inside the courtroom - an "uncivil" shouting match between the attorneys.
The courtroom drama mostly centered on the bickering between Montgomery County D.A. Kevin Steele and Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle, over the defense team's practice of publicly revealing the names of other accusers for a testimony. McMonagle maintained that most of the accused women had already made their allegations public.
It got so contentious that the judge had to give repeated warnings for his courtroom to maintain decorum, stating that the arguments were "uncivil." At one point, the judge said:
You don't want to get involved with the Sheriff's Office if you can't control yourselves.Steele argued that the testimony was necessary to show Cosby's history of drugging and molesting women, the kind of MO that Constand was subjected to. He told Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill:
The defendant has engaged, over the course of decades, in a signature pattern of non-consensual sexual assaults on young women who were in an unconscious state due to an intoxicant that the defendant administered to them.Judge O'Neill had to decide whether to permit some or all of the women to testify under a state law which allows for witnesses of alleged wrongful charges to be called to the stand. The judge ruled that the defense could call only 11 out of the 13 women, as two have wished to remain anonymous.
The accusers are among 50 women who came forward as alleged victims of sexual assault from Cosby since prosecutors reopened Constand's case last year. Another blowup occurred during a PowerPoint presentation. Steele accused the defense team of positioning the screen in such a way as to reveal the names of the women to the reporters in the courtroom gallery, but McManagle insisted that it was the courtroom staff who set up the projection system. He agreed to remove the names of the women for another presentation.
From Cosby's ill-advised quip in the beginning, to the ensuing shouting match between the lawyers, it's going to be a trial more dramatic than your average courtroom television show. Looks like Cosby is still in the business of entertaining. H/T - deadline, nydailynews, vanityfair, uproxx, ap, nbcnews