PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby’s lawyers asked a judge Monday to summon as many as 2,000 people from Allegheny County to participate in jury selection for the entertainer’s sex assault trial.

Citing the high-profile nature of the case, Cosby’s lawyers laid out a proposed weekslong process for jury selection, beginning with mailing questionnaires to thousands of potential jurors in an effort to narrow down the pool before they report to court.

“The extraordinarily widespread media attention that this matter and other accusations against Mr. Cosby has received makes it a greater challenge to identify and select impartial prospective jurors,” lawyers Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa wrote.

Cosby, 79, is scheduled to go on trial in Montgomery County in June on a charge of aggravated indecent assault. Prosecutors say he drugged and molested Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Cheltenham Township home in 2004. The state Supreme Court ruled last week that his jury will come from Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and several surrounding municipalities.

Typically in criminal cases, a court summons jurors to appear in person to answer questions. But Cosby’s lawyers wrote that the use of written questionnaires before in-court appearances has been used for other trials with high-profile defendants, including Barry Bonds, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

That procedure would quicken the selection process once potential jurors report to court, Cosby’s lawyers said. They proposed mailing the questionnaires the first week in May, allowing each side to review them and submit a list of jurors to eliminate before in-person questioning begins in groups of 100 on June 5 in Pittsburgh.

Sample question they would like to ask include whether jurors have heard about the case; what they know about it; their personal opinion of Cosby; and whether they or a friend or family member have been sexual assault victims.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer


‘Affluenza’ teen’s lawyers appeal to Texas Supreme Court

FORT WORTH, Texas — Lawyers for Ethan Couch have appealed to the Texas Supreme Court in their attempt to free the “affluenza” teen from jail.

Attorneys Reagan Wynn and Scott Brown filed a petition for a writ of mandamus Friday, arguing that state District Judge Wayne Salvant did not have the authority last April to send Couch to the Tarrant County Jail for 720 days as a condition of his probation.

Couch, 19, remains in jail.

He was sentenced as a juvenile to 10 years’ probation for killing four people in a drunken driving crash in 2013. Salvant was assigned Couch’s case when it was transferred to adult court when he turned 19.

Wynn and Brown have been fighting Salvant’s ruling for almost a year. Their motion to remove Salvant from the case was denied in September. The 2nd Court of Appeals denied their appeal in February.

In their petition to the state Supreme Court, the attorneys wrote that Couch’s case should not have been transferred to Salvant’s Criminal District Court No. 2 because it should be treated as a civil matter.

Couch first drew attention in June 2013, when he crashed his Ford F-150 pickup into several good Samaritans helping the driver of a disabled vehicle, killing four people in southern Tarrant County.

At his trial, a psychologist testified that Couch had not learned right from wrong because of his parents and his wealthy upbringing, a condition the psychologist called “affluenza.”

In December 2015, Couch skipped a probation appointment and fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch, after a video surfaced that appeared to show him partying, a violation of his probation. The Couches were captured in Puerto Vallarta several weeks later.

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Boy, 5, dies after being accidentally strangled by family dog

PHILADELPHIA — A 5-year-old Bucks County, Pa., boy, who was choked when the family dog pulled his scarf while playing in the snow last week, has died.

John Bruno of Warrington died Saturday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he had been transferred after the incident at his home in the Palomino Farms development.

His death from ligature strangulation was listed as accidental, said James Garrow, spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.

On Wednesday afternoon, the boy’s mother, who was at home, looked out a window and saw her son face-down in the snow with the family’s 1 {-year-old hound mix pulling at his scarf. She carried the boy, who was unconscious and unresponsive, inside to wait for medical help. He was taken to Doylestown Hospital and later transferred, Warrington police said at the time.

A GoFundMe page that was set up to defer the family’s medical and funeral expense has more than tripled the goal of $5,000.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer


Britain to trigger Brexit negotiations on March 29

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger formal negotiations on Britain leaving the European Union on March 29, the British government said on Monday.

It said Britain’s envoy to the EU, Tim Barrow, had informed European Council President Donald Tusk’s office that May plans to inform it by letter that she is triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a nation to leave the EU after up to two years of negotiations.

“Last June, the people of the UK made the historic decision to leave the EU,” Brexit Secretary David Davis said in a statement.

“Next Wednesday, the government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50.

“We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation,” Davis said.

He said May’s Conservative government wants to agree to a Brexit deal that “works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe — a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.”


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