Billy Cosby is a well-known American stand-up comedian, but he may not be a good person. During the Me Too movement, Cosby was the target of numerous sexual assault allegations, many of which were widely publicized. Judy Huth recently made an unusual move in a sexual assault case. The accuser of Bill Cosby has requested that her case be decided by a judge in a bench trial.
Typically, plaintiffs in sexual assault cases prefer jurors to hear their cases over a judge, but Bill Cosby’s accuser Judy Huth has waived her right to a jury trial. Attorneys for Huth and Cosby sparred in a heated Friday morning hearing over a request for L.A. Judge Craig Karlan to decide the fate of a lawsuit from Huth claiming Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, and whether Cosby’s lawyers should be allowed to depose more witnesses.
“We have not made a decision yet. I can also represent that there are quite a few issues that have come up since our last meeting that give me great concern and frustration that, despite the fact that we were very anxious to move forward with trial in May, we’ve received disclosures and had issues that’ve come up. I was looking for a fair trial in May.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Huth abruptly informed the court on March 8 that she prefers Karlan to hear her claims rather than a jury. The decision was made just months before a trial date set for May 9 in the case, which has been pending in Los Angeles Superior Court since December 2014.
The delay was caused by Cosby’s criminal charges in Pennsylvania, where he was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand because of a non-prosecution agreement, the conviction was eventually overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
On March 7th, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal of the ruling. During the hearing, which was mostly closed to the public, Karlan pressed Cosby’s attorneys on whether they would agree to a bench trial. Shawn Holley, who represents high-profile entertainment clients in both criminal and civil litigation matters but is not involved in the case, says it’s “unusual” for a plaintiff in a sexual assault case to choose a bench trial over a jury trial.
“This is obviously a very personal decision. It’s not one I can make for my client. A lot has changed in the last few weeks about how this case will be tried.”
“One reason would be that the case turns more on legal issues than factual ones. Another would be that the bench officer is someone who plaintiff has identified as very pro-plaintiff and feels confident that he/she will prevail before that particular bench officer.”
Huth’s willingness to testify is still unknown. Huth has been ordered to undergo an independent mental examination by Cosby’s lawyer to ensure she is fit to stand trial. Karlan also said at the hearing that the trial could be postponed until June 20th to allow Cosby’s lawyers to question more witnesses for an upcoming documentary about the comedian.
Huth’s lawyer, John West, was adamant about not continuing the trial and reopening discovery.
“I don’t understand how the defendant, who is not shy about taking discovery, has been in the case for so many months without ever seeking discovery of these witnesses.”
Bonjean responded that they were not disclosed and that plaintiffs’ attorneys have stalled them by refusing to answer whether they represent the witnesses. Let’s see what happens next. To get the latest updates, keep an eye on Thirsty.
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