The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States In a petition filed on Monday, prosecutors argued that a decision announced in a press release does not grant a defendant lifetime immunity and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review its decision overturning Bill Cosby’s conviction.
Prosecutors warned that overturning convictions based on questionable behind-closed-door deals could set a dangerous precedent. Furthermore, they’ve taken issue with the state’s chief high court judge, who gave a television interview in which he seemed to misrepresent key facts in the case.
“Montgomery County and Pennsylvania will feel the effects of this decision long after it is made. We believe the Supreme Court of the United States can right a grave wrong “County District Attorney Kevin Steele of Montgomery County penned an amicus brief, which he filed in support of his petition for review by the Supreme Court under the due process clause.
Lawyers for Bill Cosby have long argued that when he gave damaging testimony in 2006 in an accuser’s civil suit, he did so on the promise that he would never be charged.
Two criminal trials later, the admissions were used against him.
Only a 2005 press release from then-prosecutor Bruce Castor, who said he didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Cosby, shows that such a promise was ever made.
Unclarified in the press release was Castor’s promise to “reconsider this decision if necessary.” Since then, the parties have spent years debating the implications of this.
It falls far short of a lifetime immunity agreement, according to Castor’s successors who gathered fresh evidence and arrested Cosby in 2015. A deal like this was never made, according to them. Even though his rambling testimony “slipped up,” they say Cosby had strategic reasons to give the deposition rather than invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
A “non-prosecution agreement,” said the defence attorneys, meant the case never should have gone to trial.
Bill Cosby, 84, was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004, the first celebrity to be found guilty of sexual assault in the #MeToo era, at his retrial in 2018.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court released him in June after he served nearly three years in prison.
It’s a long shot for Steele to resurrect the case. More than 99% of petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court are rejected. A high-profile #MeToo case will be closely monitored by legal scholars and victim advocates to see if the court takes an interest.
Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, two Supreme Court justices, were both accused of sexual misconduct during their confirmation hearings.
The Cosby case has elicited wildly divergent opinions from appellate judges. The conviction was upheld by an intermediate state court. That was followed by three separate opinions from seven justices on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Cosby relied on the decision not to prosecute him when he admitted to giving a string of young women drugs and alcohol prior to sexual encounters, according to the majority. Rather than finding an agreement, the court found that Cosby believed there was one, and that belief tainted his conviction.
Nevertheless, prosecutors dispute that finding. When the deposition questions were posed to him, his legal team objected strongly rather than allow him to speak freely.
Cosby has never testified about any agreement or promise he has made to anyone else. Among those who have come forward is Castor, a political opponent of Steele’s who represented President Trump in his second impeachment trial. When Castor made the promise to a defence attorney for Bill Cosby, he says he received nothing in return.
His top assistant Risa Ferman was never informed of his investigation into Bill Cosby, and he never mentioned it to her.
When a federal judge unsealed Cosby’s deposition, she became district attorney and reopened the case in 2015.
During a sensational pre-trial hearing held in February 2016, Castor testified for the defence for hours. In a statement, he said he wrote the press release on his own, after work, and intended it to convey different meanings to lawyers, the media, and the general public.
The judge ruled that he was untrustworthy and referred the case to trial.
An “affront to fundamental fairness” was cited by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in its June 30 ruling, which found Cosby’s arrest.
Later, the state attorney general dismissed charges against a jail guard accused of sexually abusing female inmates, due to an earlier agreement with county prosecutors that allowed him to resign rather than face charges.
A groundbreaking Black actor and comedian, Cosby, created the highest-rated “Cosby Show” in the 1980s. Following an onslaught of sex assault allegations, at least eight women reached multimillion-dollar court settlements with him. However, Constand’s case was the only one to result in criminal charges.
Constand’s attorneys also challenged the testimony of five of the witnesses who testified for the prosecution in support of her claims. There is no clear answer to the question of how many witnesses can testify in criminal cases before the evidence becomes unfair to the defence, but the state’s highest court refused to address it.
On the heels of the #MeToo movement, Constand wrote a memoir in which she said the verdict was less important than the growing support for sexual assault survivors.
“Even though the verdict was decided, it seemed like a minor detail. One of the most significant shifts in human history occurred at that moment,” Constand wrote in her book, “The Moment.”
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