Bill Cosby’s lawyers spotted at Montgomery County Courthouse; have ‘no comment’

NORRISTOWN >> The sex assault retrial for entertainer Bill Cosby won’t begin until April but his new lawyers were at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Friday, apparently getting familiar with the courtroom where the legal drama will play out.

Defense lawyers Samuel W. Silver and Kathleen Bliss were spotted meeting with courthouse officials Friday afternoon and examining the layout of Courtroom A, which will be home to Cosby’s trial.

However, Silver, of Philadelphia, and Bliss, of Las Vegas, were not accompanied by lead defense lawyer, Tom Mesereau, of Los Angeles. Cosby, 80, of Cheltenham, also was not present for the brief visit.

“No comment,” Bliss and Silver said, practically in unison, when asked by a reporter about the nature of their visit to Norristown.

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Silver and Bliss did chat with Michael R. Kehs, court administrator, as they stood near the defense table inside the cavernous ceremonial courtroom where the walls are decorated with portraits of past and current judges. Assistant District Attorney M. Stewart Ryan, a member of the Cosby prosecution team, also made a brief stop at the courtroom and appeared to exchange pleasantries with Bliss and Silver.

Bliss and Silver also were observed paying a visit to the Clerk of Courts Office, the keeper of all criminal court records.

A check of the court docket revealed that Bliss and Silver did not file any pretrial motions during their visit.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who will preside over the retrial, has given the defense team and prosecutors until Jan. 25 to file pretrial motions. So far, neither side has filed any motions.

Bliss and Silver spent nearly two hours at the courthouse before departing.

William Henry Cosby Jr., as his name appears on charging documents, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with allegations he had inappropriate sexual contact with Andrea Constand, a former Temple University athletic department employee, at his Cheltenham home after plying her with blue pills and wine sometime between mid-January and mid-February 2004. Cosby maintains his contact with Constand was consensual.

Cosby remains free on 10 percent of $1 million bail, pending the retrial. Cosby faces a possible maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial last June 17 after a jury of seven men and five women selected from Allegheny County individually told the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked “on all counts” after deliberating more than 52 hours over six days. The deliberations took longer than the evidentiary portion of the trial.

District Attorney Kevin R. Steele immediately vowed to seek a retrial.

During Cosby’s first trial, a jury from Allegheny County was selected after Cosby’s previous defense team argued pretrial publicity prevented Cosby from obtaining a fair and impartial jury in Montgomery County.

Mesereau, Bliss and Silver previously told the judge they will not seek an out-of-town jury for the April 2 retrial. That means Cosby’s jury will be comprised of Montgomery County residents.

Mesereau, Bliss and Silver replace lawyers Brian J. McMonagle and Angela Agrusa, who represented Cosby at the first trial.

Mesereau is best known for representing the late Michael Jackson at a 2004 California trial at which Jackson was acquitted of all child molestation charges. Mesereau’s other celebrity clients have included actor Robert Blake and boxer Mike Tyson, according to Mesereau’s web site.

Silver, a partner with the Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis firm in Philadelphia, previously represented U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah who was convicted of federal corruption charges in June 2016 and is serving a 10-year prison term. Silver, an adjunct faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania, also represented former Penn State President Graham Spanier at his child endangerment trial earlier this year.

Bliss, according to her biography, is a former federal prosecutor turned defense lawyer who has tried more than 50 federal criminal jury trials during her career.