Bill Cosby has a new lawyer: The man who won Michael Jackson’s acquittal

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For the retrial of his sexual assault case, Bill Cosby has a new lawyer and a new date. He will now be represented by Thomas Mesereau, the attorney best known for winning Michael Jackson’s acquittal in his 2005 child molestation trial. And the retrial, which was originally scheduled for November 6, will be postponed until next spring. Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill set the tentative start date for March 15 and expects it to run until April 1.

Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2005, when she was an administrator at Temple University. Though nearly 60 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, Constand is the first alleged victim to see her day in criminal court. The trial, which began on June 5, was expected to last two weeks but was completed in just eight days. The defense called only one witness; their case lasted all of six minutes.

After 52 hours of deliberation, the trial ended with a hung jury. Judge O’Neill declared a mistrial; district attorney Kevin Steele immediately announced that he would retry Cosby.

Cosby already went through three lawyers before his case went to trial. He fired two of them — Marty Singer and Christopher Tayback — and one, Monique Pressley, quit.

Attorney Tom Mesereau arrives for Bill Cosby’s pretrial hearing in Cosby’s sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa.,Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

And with only three months to go before the retrial was slated to begin, Brian J. McMonagle, who represented Cosby at his trial this summer, also quit. McMonagle was reportedly not pleased with the way Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, “handled the trial — often speaking publicly without McMonagle or [his co-counsel] Agrusa.”

Mesereau has represented a fleet of famous clients, though, save for Jackson, those cases mostly met anticlimactic ends: He defended Mike Tyson in his 2001 rape case (but the charges were later dropped), Suge Knight in his murder case (ongoing, but Mesereau left that team in 2016), and Robert Blake in his 2004 murder case (he resigned citing “irreconcilable differences” before the trial began).

In 2010, CNN called Mesereau the go-to lawyer for “when a case spirals out of control” in a piece that chronicled his work with both celebrity clients and his pro bono work on behalf of “little-known defendants from the Deep South.” He manages a free legal clinic in South Central L.A. In his own words, Mesereau is an “unconventional, unpredictable trial lawyer” whose “accomplishments in the courtroom are extraordinary and unprecedented.”

Another big change for the retrial will be the source of the jury pool. For the original trial, the jury was selected from Pittsburgh; Cosby’s legal team at the time argued that local jurors would be biased against Cosby due to the aggressive political campaigns of the candidates for District Attorney the previous year. (Both men used Cosby, and promises to successfully prosecute him, in their campaign ads.) The retrial jury will be selected from Montgomery County, where the trial will be held.

Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault. If convicted, he faces up to a decade in prison.

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