Bill Cosby is switching things up ahead of his retrial next week, with the disgraced actor assembling a new defense team of seven lawyers – four of whom are women.
Two of those women, Becky James and Kathleen Bliss, were added to the team as soon as pre-trial motions and meetings began last year, while the other two were very late additions.
Court records show that Cosby’s team submitted two motions for admission on Saturday, March 24 at around 9pm to request that Jaya Gupta and Rachael Robinson be added to his legal line-up.
That move came in the wake of Judge Steven O’Neill ruling that five women who have accused Cosby of rape could testify at trial in addition to the plaintiff, Andrea Constand.
Happy-go-lucky: Bill Cosby has assembled a completely new legal team for his retrial which includes four female attorneys and three men (Cosby and his spokesperson Andrew Wyatt)
Hello, ladies: Two of the women, Jaya Gupta (left) and Rachael Robinson (right), were added to the legal line-up just last week, shortly after it was ruled five Cosby accusers would testify
New face: Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill (above on Friday) ruled earlier this month that five of Cosby’s rape accusers will be allowed to testify at the trial
The legal team will be headed up this time by Tom Mesereau, who has defended A-list celebrities including Michael Jackson.
He replaces Brian McMonagle, who stepped down after the first trial ended in a hung jury and was declared a mistrial, a ruling that most legal experts agreed was the best possible outcome Cosby could hope for in the case.
There are now lawyers on Cosby’s current team who were part of his defense during the first trial.
Bliss is a former federal prosecutor who served in Nevada for over two decades while James is a partner at the Los Angeles-based firm of Greenberg Gross.
That is the same firm where Gupta and Robinson are employed as associates.
‘Prior to law school, Ms. Gupta received a master’s degree in Medieval English Studies at the University of Oxford,’ reads Gupta’s bio on the law firm’s website.
‘She received her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.’
That bio also makes it clear why she was selected for the team, stating: ‘Her experience includes representing individuals and entities in class actions, and in civil and criminal government investigations brought pursuant to the False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.’
Robinson also fills a niche in the defense team, having ‘began her legal career as an associate working with Partner Becky S. James at James & Associates, focusing primarily on appeals and white collar criminal defense’ according to her bio.
These new lawyers will be up against the returning prosecutor in the case, Kevin Steele.
He has also made some changes however, thanks to Judge Steven O’Neill ruling that the prosecution could call five accusers to the stand at trial.
That is a big increase from the first trial, where there were just two women who took the stand – plaintiff Andrea Constand and Kelly Johnson.
Constand will be taking the stand once again, and this time be joined by Janice Baker-Kinney, Janice Dickinson, Chelan lasha, Lisa-Lotte Lublin and Heidi Thomas.
Prosecutors had been hoping to have 13 women testify alongside Constand to speak to a pattern of behavior exhibited by the defendant.
Cosby, 80, has been accused of drugging and raping over 40 women.