Bill Cosby sex assault conviction overturned by court

Cicada 5

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Pennsylvania’s highest court threw out Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction and opened the way for his immediate release from prison Wednesday in a stunning reversal of fortune for the comedian once known as “America’s Dad,” ruling that the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by his predecessor’s agreement not to charge Cosby.

Cosby, 83, has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence after being found guilty of drugging and violating Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era.

Cosby was arrested in 2015, when a district attorney armed with newly unsealed evidence — the comic’s damaging deposition testimony in a lawsuit brought by Constand — brought charges against him days before the 12-year statute of limitations ran out.

But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that District Attorney Kevin Steele, who made the decision to arrest Cosby, was obligated to stand by his predecessor’s promise not to charge Cosby. There was no evidence that promise was ever put in writing.

Justice David Wecht, writing for a split court, said Cosby had relied on the former prosecutor’s decision not to charge him when the comedian later gave his potentially incriminating testimony in the Constand’s civil case.
 

happyninja42

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That wording just absolutely infuriates me. His deposition where he confesses to doing stuff, is dependent on him not being prosecuted. That's not innocent damnit!
 
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Samtemdo8

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Even if he's out of jail, he will still be ostracized from mainstream society. No one but his most ardent supporters will even look at him. And definitely no woman will talk to him.

It will take another lifetime to regain his reputation and he's gonna die in probably 10 more years.
 

Revnak

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Even if he's out of jail, he will still be ostracized from mainstream society. No one but his most ardent supporters will even look at him. And definitely no woman will talk to him.

It will take another lifetime to regain his reputation and he's gonna die in probably 10 more years.
He’s gonna be a Fox contributor tomorrow.
 

Jarrito3002

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Even if he's out of jail, he will still be ostracized from mainstream society. No one but his most ardent supporters will even look at him. And definitely no woman will talk to him.

It will take another lifetime to regain his reputation and he's gonna die in probably 10 more years.
1. You strongly underestimate how many people thought it was unjust and are celebrating him being out.
2. Some woman will still touch him...way more than it should be but yeah even woman supported him.

I mean yeah he has 10 more years at best and the ratio of his crimes to his punishment is severe.
 

BrawlMan

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2. Some woman will still touch him...way more than it should be but yeah even woman supported him.
Then they're even bigger fools than him.

I was not expecting this. The fucker still guilty and I want nothing to do with him. Piss off and die.
 

CM156

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As much as this burns me to say it, after reading the opinion of the court, I agree they are correct as far as matters of law.
This does not mean this is a good thing. It's not.
But I do think the court was correct in this ruling, or at the very least, this wasn't a manifestly incorrect ruling.
 
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Gordon_4

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As much as this burns me to say it, after reading the opinion of the court, I agree they are correct as far as matters of law.
This does not mean this is a good thing. It's not.
But I do think the court was correct in this ruling, or at the very least, this wasn't a manifestly incorrect ruling.
Would you care to give us a layman's explanation? I'm guessing that the prosecution did something perhaps prejudicial at trial that wasn't picked up by his defence.
 

TheMysteriousGX

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Short answer far as I understand it is that Cosby had a verbal agreement with the previous DA that he wouldn't be prosecuted for that deposition they used to try him
 

CM156

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Would you care to give us a layman's explanation? I'm guessing that the prosecution did something perhaps prejudicial at trial that wasn't picked up by his defence.
I'll take a crack at it. The decision is here.

This is my personal opinion and should not be taken as legal advice. If you need such advice, please contact a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

In 2005, Cosby was accused of sexual assault against Andrea Constand. The District Attorney (Castor) is alleged to have looked into this, and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to convince a jury that Cosby was guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Castor then used his discretion as DA to decline prosecution. By doing this, Castor prevented Cosby from being able to use the fifth amendment's protection against self-incrimination in subsequent civil actions. By his own admission, Castor intended to remove "for all time" the possibility of prosecution. Deprived of this ability, Cosby provided four sworn depositions that contained incriminating statements. The incriminating information can be found starting on page 14 of the decision. Cosby later settled with Constand in the amount of 3.38 million dollars. In 2015, the new district attorney, Risa Vetri Ferman, decided to prosecute Cosby. Ferman asserted that in the absence of any written agreement not to prosecute, the state was not bound. The trial court agreed. Additionally, the information he provided at these depositions was permitted into trial as evidence. Cosby was convicted.

The court reversed this conviction. I can sum it up best with a quote from page 52: "when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify, the principle of fundamental fairness that undergirds due process of law in our criminal justice system demands that the promise be enforced"

Cosby was told he wouldn't be prosecuted by the entity with the authority to make that promise. Relying on that promise, he made statements under oath that he reasonably believed he had to make (no fifth amendment right, see page 66). The new DA cannot simply come along and decide to break the agreement. Note that this does not address the wisdom of the former DA's decision. However, just because a prosecutor makes a very bad decision does not entitle the government to a remedy at the expense of the defendant's rights. Allowing Cosby to be prosecuted, however, would allow prosecutors to do an end run around the fifth amendment. The court considered the remedy of allowing a third trial where the testimony from the depositions would be disallowed. This was rejected, on the principle that when there is a due process violation (which they found here), the only fair remedy is putting the offended party as they were before the offense. The court reasoned that the actions of the first DA were bad enough that no retrial could be allowed. You can see reasoning for this starting on page 76. The reasoning staring at the bottom of page 77 and going on to "IV. Conclusion" on page 78 is too lengthy to quote, but it sums up the case nicely.

tl:dr version: The former DA made an agreement not to prosecute Cosby. The fact that a new DA decided differently does not allow them to reverse the decision.

Note there is also a question as to if several of the women who testified against him (past alleged victims) should have been allowed to do so. The court declined to answer this question because the case was moot. I will therefore not go into any analysis of this issue, other than to say that I agree with the notion that courts should not address more issues than necessary to resolve a case.

EDIT: I just want to add that people upset at this aren't wrong. It's bad things turned out this way. Had the court ruled differently, it would have potentially, as I said above, allowed prosecutors to do end runs around the fifth amendment, to people far more sympathetic than Mr. Cosby here. That is one of the parts of living in a legal system where precedent is extremely powerful.
We can take steps to prevent things like this from happening again, such as actions to restrain the power DAs have to make agreements like this. Should Mr. Cosby be in prison? Morally, yes. Legally? Not unless they have something else they can nail him on.
 
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meiam

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Yeah the DA just royally fucked up (or maybe not, would Cosby still have been charged and convicted if he didn't do the deposition?). It's a shame but in the greater picture this is definitely the right thing, it'd be really bad if all DA gained the power to just lie about this all the time. This touched on the question of whether it's better to have an innocents in jail or a guilty people free and most people (and the law) come down on the side of guilty free. But it's pretty shocking how often bad people go free because of incompetent DA/prosecutor, I'm all for a serious re examination of the justice system (I'd love to see some jurisdiction seriously attempt professional juror).

I'm not quite sure what would happen if new women came forward and claim he abused them, maybe there could be a new trial?
 

Trunkage

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I'll take a crack at it. The decision is here.

This is my personal opinion and should not be taken as legal advice. If you need such advice, please contact a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

In 2005, Cosby was accused of sexual assault against Andrea Constand. The District Attorney (Castor) is alleged to have looked into this, and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to convince a jury that Cosby was guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Castor then used his discretion as DA to decline prosecution. By doing this, Castor prevented Cosby from being able to use the fifth amendment's protection against self-incrimination in subsequent civil actions. By his own admission, Castor intended to remove "for all time" the possibility of prosecution. Deprived of this ability, Cosby provided four sworn depositions that contained incriminating statements. The incriminating information can be found starting on page 14 of the decision. Cosby later settled with Constand in the amount of 3.38 million dollars. In 2015, the new district attorney, Risa Vetri Ferman, decided to prosecute Cosby. Ferman asserted that in the absence of any written agreement not to prosecute, the state was not bound. The trial court agreed. Additionally, the information he provided at these depositions was permitted into trial as evidence. Cosby was convicted.

The court reversed this conviction. I can sum it up best with a quote from page 52: "when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify, the principle of fundamental fairness that undergirds due process of law in our criminal justice system demands that the promise be enforced"

Cosby was told he wouldn't be prosecuted by the entity with the authority to make that promise. Relying on that promise, he made statements under oath that he reasonably believed he had to make (no fifth amendment right, see page 66). The new DA cannot simply come along and decide to break the agreement. Note that this does not address the wisdom of the former DA's decision. However, just because a prosecutor makes a very bad decision does not entitle the government to a remedy at the expense of the defendant's rights. Allowing Cosby to be prosecuted, however, would allow prosecutors to do an end run around the fifth amendment. The court considered the remedy of allowing a third trial where the testimony from the depositions would be disallowed. This was rejected, on the principle that when there is a due process violation (which they found here), the only fair remedy is putting the offended party as they were before the offense. The court reasoned that the actions of the first DA were bad enough that no retrial could be allowed. You can see reasoning for this starting on page 76. The reasoning staring at the bottom of page 77 and going on to "IV. Conclusion" on page 78 is too lengthy to quote, but it sums up the case nicely.

tl:dr version: The former DA made an agreement not to prosecute Cosby. The fact that a new DA decided differently does not allow them to reverse the decision.

Note there is also a question as to if several of the women who testified against him (past alleged victims) should have been allowed to do so. The court declined to answer this question because the case was moot. I will therefore not go into any analysis of this issue, other than to say that I agree with the notion that courts should not address more issues than necessary to resolve a case.

EDIT: I just want to add that people upset at this aren't wrong. It's bad things turned out this way. Had the court ruled differently, it would have potentially, as I said above, allowed prosecutors to do end runs around the fifth amendment, to people far more sympathetic than Mr. Cosby here. That is one of the parts of living in a legal system where precedent is extremely powerful.
We can take steps to prevent things like this from happening again, such as actions to restrain the power DAs have to make agreements like this. Should Mr. Cosby be in prison? Morally, yes. Legally? Not unless they have something else they can nail him on.
As far as I understand, he also can’t be tried again due to double jeopardy. Isn’t the decision voided, not found not guilty. Is there a difference?
 

Thaluikhain

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Even if he's out of jail, he will still be ostracized from mainstream society. No one but his most ardent supporters will even look at him. And definitely no woman will talk to him.

It will take another lifetime to regain his reputation and he's gonna die in probably 10 more years.
I wish I shared your optimism.