Court officials: Cosby trial cost $219,000, mostly from staff overtime

The Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

The Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

The two-week criminal trial of Bill Cosby last month cost Montgomery County taxpayers $219,100. 

More than half of that sum — or $129,000 — covered overtime for sheriff’s deputies and other security staff who put in long hours over the 11-day court proceeding, according to a cost breakdown from county officials.

The second highest cost was the price of putting up the sequestered jurors from Pittsburgh in a local hotel and feeding them. In all, that carried a bill of $60,000, the bulk of which covered lodging for the 12 jurors and six alternates. Officials booked an entire floor of a hotel in Plymouth Meeting for the group of fact finders, who were bused to the courtroom every day from the hotel.

Streaming the proceeding in an overflow room for members of the public and journalists who could not fit in the main courtroom was expensive, too, to the tune of $16,000, officials said.

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Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele dismissed critics who question whether it is worth pursuing the case again in light of the nearly quarter-million-dollar burden on local taxpayers.

“We have said all along you can’t put a price on justice,” Steele said. “Justice is never served by treating a wealthy defendant any differently than an indigent defendant, in any case.”

Steele added that prosecutors are always conscious of spending, but he did not describe ways in which Cosby’s retrial, scheduled for Nov. 6, would reduce costs. 

Val Arkoosh, a chairwoman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said preparing for the Cosby trial required “difficult work and extra attention” across several county departments.

“I want to extend my deepest gratitude for the hard work and professionalism that our county employees showed throughout the trial,” she said in a statement.

Cosby maintains his innocence in the face of three sexual-assault charges tied to a 2004 incident at his Montgomery County home. Prosecutors say they are hopeful a new jury will reach a verdict after a panel last month failed to return a unanimous decision after 53 hours of intense deliberations.

Here is an itemized list of the cost of the Cosby trial, which was provided by Montgomery County officials.

Juror Expenses: $74,000

Jury selection: $6,700
Transportation: $7,300
Accommodations: $46,000
Meals: $14,000

Personnel Expenses: $129,000

Sheriff’s Office overtime pay: $98,600
Detective overtime pay: $14,400
Court staff overtime pay: $14,100
Security overtime pay: $1,900

Court Expenses:  $16,100

Audio/Video to overflow court room: $16,100


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