Bill Cosby’s Civil Jury Almost Returns a Verdict, But Must Start Over

Bill Cosby’s Civil Jury Almost Returns a Verdict, But Must Start Over

The jury in Bill Cosby’s civil trial nearly returned its verdict on Friday afternoon, but will instead have to resume deliberations on Monday morning.

The unusual twist came at the end of the second day of deliberations in Santa Monica Superior Court. The plaintiff, Judy Huth, sued Cosby for sexually assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16, in 1975.

Jurors were asked to answer nine questions, including whether Cosby had sexually assaulted Huth, whether she was under 18, whether Cosby had reason to know and how much damages she would be awarded.

Late Friday, the jury informed Judge Craig Karlan that they had returned a verdict on eight of the questions. The only unanswered question was whether Cosby acted “maliciously, oppressively or fraudulently” – which would result in punitive damages if they answered yes.

Karlan initially indicated that he would accept a partial verdict, but then changed his mind after a bailiff informed him that the court building would be closing for the day in a few minutes. Karlan said he didn’t have enough time to take the verdict and didn’t want to incur any overtime at the sheriff’s department.

Instead, jurors will resume deliberations on Monday morning. But they will have to start their discussions again – potentially erasing the verdicts on all eight questions – because the foreman had to be excused due to a pre-planned trip. A substitute juror will be seated on Monday to take his place.

Huth’s attorneys wanted the judge to return the partial verdict, as it was apparent from the way the verdict form is structured that it would go in their favor.

Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, objected, saying the same 12 jurors should decide all issues in the case. The judge disagreed, but in the end the defense had their preference because of the clock.

Nine of the 12 jurors must agree to reach a verdict on each question.

Earlier in the day, Karlan denied Bonjean’s motion for a mistrial. Bonjean alleged that Lili Bernard, an accuser in a separate civil case from Cosby, was seen walking with one of the jurors during a break. She argued that Bernard appeared to be engaged in jury tampering. Bernard and the juror each denied any inappropriate conversations, and the judge denied the request.

The jurors also posed 10 questions to the judge, seeking definitions of various terms on the verdict form. At one point, they indicated that they had difficulty agreeing on the amount of damages to be awarded. Bonjean seemed frustrated with what the questions revealed about the deliberations, saying at least nine of them wanted to “punish” Cosby for his overall sexual behavior.

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