Bill Cosby's lawyers are expected to make a last-ditch effort to postpone the comedian's sexual assault retrial by pressuring the judge to step aside after losing their bid to overturn his ruling allowing up to five additional accusers to testify.
The defence first demanded Judge Steven O'Neill recuse himself last week, arguing in court papers that he could be seen as biased because his wife is a social worker who has described herself as an "advocate for assault victims".
Now the retooled defence team, led by former Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, is going face-to-face with O'Neill in his suburban Philadelphia courtroom at a final pre-trial hearing before the start of jury selection on Monday.
Cosby was escorted into the courthouse on Thursday morning on the arm of his spokesman.
The 80-year-old Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested former Temple University athletics administrator Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
O'Neill presided over Cosby's first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year. The retrial could be delayed indefinitely if he bows out.
The judge's wife, Deborah O'Neill, is a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania and co-ordinates a team that cares and advocates for student sexual assault victims. Cosby's lawyers said that last year she gave money to a group linked to an organisation that is planning a protest outside the retrial.
As Cosby's lawyers are battling with O'Neill, they also are counting on him to make critical rulings to bolster their defence that Constand is a money-grubbing liar.
Cosby's lawyers want permission to call a witness who says Constand told her that she was not assaulted but could make up allegations to sue and get money, and they want jurors to hear how much Cosby paid her in a 2006 civil settlement.
They also are still fighting O'Neill's ruling allowing as many as five additional accusers to testify after he allowed just one to take the stand at Cosby's first trial.
Documents made public showed that prosecutors have chosen model Janice Dickinson as one of the women they plan to have testify. She says Cosby drugged and raped her in Lake Tahoe in 1982.
Australian Associated Press