Judge Pauses Discovery in Bill Cosby California Civil Case Pending Criminal Prosecution

Cosby's attorneys asked the court to delay his civil sex abuse case pending the outcome of the criminal prosecution he's facing in Pennsylvania.
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Bill Cosby is fighting civil and criminal legal battles on multiple fronts, but discovery in one of them will be put on hold after a judge on Wednesday granted in part the comedian's request for a stay in his California sexual battery and emotional distress case. 

Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Craig D. Karlan ruled discovery related to both parties is on hold — including Cosby's deposition that was scheduled for April 7.

"Part of my concern is protecting both parties' rights and keeping the case moving forward," Karlan said in a Wednesday morning hearing. "Justice delayed is justice denied."

Judy Huth sued Cosby in 2014, launching an onslaught of recent lawsuits filed by women alleging sexual assault or defamation by the comedian.

Huth claims that when she was 15 Cosby invited her and a 16-year-old friend into a house where he convinced her to drink a beer for every game of pool he won against them, and then he took them to the Playboy Mansion where he molested her in a bedroom. 

“This traumatic incident, at such a tender age, has caused psychological damage and mental anguish for Plaintiff that has caused her significant problems throughout her life since the incident,” states the complaint.

Huth claims the incident happened in 1974, but the date she discovered that her psychological injuries were caused by the alleged Cosby assault was within three years prior to filing the lawsuit. 

In addition to this and other civil suits, Cosby is facing a criminal charge of sexual assault in Pennsylvania in connection with a 2004 incident involving former Temple University employee Andrea Constand.

Before the hearing, Huth’s attorney Gloria Allred told reporters that if Cosby must invoke his fifth amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination so be it — but that shouldn’t put the entire case on hold.

But the court agrees with Cosby's attorneys that parts of this case should be paused while the criminal case plays out, as long as that criminal case doesn't drag out for too long. If that happens, Karlan wants to revisit whether a stay is appropriate.

Cosby's attorney Monique Pressley issued a statement on Wednesday in response to the decision: "The court recognized the dilemma faced by a defendant who must choose between defending civil litigation by providing testimony on one hand and losing the case by asserting the constitutional right to remain silent on the other hand, and rightly issued an order eliminating the necessity of such an untenable choice." 

After a lengthy discussion about balancing public interest with being able to find an impartial jury, Karlan ruled third party depositions in the case can proceed, but they'll be subject to a "cooling off" period of two weeks to give attorneys time to decide if they warrant a protective order.

Allred says she intends to depose Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner and Renita Hill, another woman who alleges assault by the comedian.

This comes on the heels of a decision both sides are calling a win in the defamation lawsuit filed against Cosby by former supermodel Janice Dickinson.

Dickinson's case cleared a First Amendment hurdle on Tuesday, but lost some teeth in the process.  

She sued in 2015 after Cosby's then-attorney Marty Singer issued a press statement calling her a liar in response to an interview she gave in which she said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982. Judge Debre Katz Weintraub denied in part Cosby's anti-SLAPP motion in favor of allowing a jury to decide whether Dickinson was defamed. 

"We are delighted that the Court ruled today that Janice Dickinson’s case against Bill Cosby should go to trial," said Dickinson's attorney Lisa Bloom in a statement. "I look forward to our day in Court to prove Ms. Dickinson’s case. Ms. Dickinson and I are committed to this fight until the end."

Pressley turned to Twitter on Tuesday to issue her statement on the Dickinson case.

“The Court granted Mr. Cosby’s motion in part and struck half the bases upon which plaintiff filed her lawsuit,” Pressley wrote. “We believe the remainder of the lawsuit should be dismissed as well and will be considering Mr. Cosby’s options on appeal.”

March 30, 10:50 a.m. Updated with details on the scope of the stay and comments from Huth's attorney.

March 30, 12:30 p.m. Updated with a statement from Cosby's attorney.

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