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Judge says names of jurors in Cosby trial can be released

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/21/2017
FILE - In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, file photo, Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial was declared in his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa. Judge Steven O'Neill who presided over Cosby's sexual assault trial is weighing whether to make public the identities of the jurors who deadlocked in the case. He said he would rule by Wednesday, June 21. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, file photo, Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial was declared in his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa. Judge Steven O'Neill who presided over Cosby's sexual assault trial is weighing whether to make public the identities of the jurors who deadlocked in the case. He said he would rule by Wednesday, June 21. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The judge who presided over Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial on Wednesday ordered the public release of the identities of the jurors who deadlocked in the case, but warned them not to divulge what other jurors said during deliberations.

Judge Steven O'Neill granted a request by a dozen media organizations, including The Associated Press, to release the names. He said that'll be done once the jurors are contacted and given instructions on what they can and cannot say if they talk to reporters.

The judge declared a mistrial Saturday after the jury deliberated for 52 hours without a verdict. Prosecutors plan to retry the 79-year-old entertainer on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his home in 2004. Cosby said the encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual.

Lawyers for news outlets had argued that jurors' names should be public to ensure transparency in the judicial process. Prosecutors and defense lawyers had argued they should remain secret, saying releasing them would make it more difficult to select a jury in Cosby's second trial.

O'Neill cited the media's First Amendment rights and Supreme Court precedent in ordering the release of the names. But he forbade jurors from talking about what other members of the jury said in the deliberating room or from revealing any votes cast in the case.

"Any disclosure of what was said and done during deliberations in this case would give a chilling effect upon the future jurors in this case and their ability to deliberate freely," he wrote. "Further, future jurors will be reluctant to speak up or to say what they think when deliberating if they fear that what they say during deliberations will not be kept secret."

Jim Koval, spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, wasn't immediately able to provide a timetable on when jurors' names will be made public.

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