The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear two points that were raised by Bill Cosby’s defense attorneys in his 2018 sexual assault case. Cosby is accused of drugging and raping several women. Cosby, who is now 82, was convicted in 2018 of three counts of sexual assault and battery related to a single victim. He was sentenced to 10 years and has remained behind bars since then.
Two lower courts have already refused to overturn Cosby’s conviction. However, the Supreme Court could, if the rules of procedure were not followed properly, vacate the conviction and order a new trial.
What Arguments Will the Supreme Court Consider?
Defense attorneys for Cosby raised two key points. There is a question as to whether or not the admission of “prior bad acts” should have been allowed before the jury. In 2005, Cosby underwent a deposition during which he appears to have admitted using quaaludes during consensual sex. There was an agreement made by the chief prosecutor in that case not to prosecute Cosby in the Constand case, but this was the case for which Cosby was convicted. Whether or not testimony from that deposition should be admitted is one of the two elements. The other is whether or not Cosby can be prosecuted for these crimes if the prosecutor gave him immunity.
The prosecutor agreed not to file charges against Cosby if he agreed to testify in a civil trial filed by the complainant Constand. Constand’s attorneys questioned Cosby for four days, resulting in a civil judgment of more than $3 million. After the district attorney who offered that arrangement stepped down, a second district attorney stepped in and refiled the charges against Cosby in the Constand case.
“Prior bad acts” were used to convict other rich and powerful men such as Harvey Weinstein. They are used to show a pattern of abusive behavior that lends credence to a main witness’s testimony. Weinstein faced testimony from women whom he assaulted, but was never charged with their assaults. The new prosecutor has further argued that the agreement between his predecessor and Cosby was non-binding.
What Does This Mean?
While no one wants to see rapists get away with their crimes, defendants (all defendants) are in a considerably weaker position than prosecutors. Regardless of how much money you make, your life is on the line; people accept plea deals simply to make the situation go away, even when they are not guilty. While this is often more true of the poor than the rich, the same laws that affect Cosby affect you, too. If prosecutors are allowed to rescind agreements with defendants, lawyers would no longer be willing to accept unenforceable agreements. While you can argue that is his lawyer’s fault, the defendant is also protected from bad counsel.
If the Supreme Court vacates the conviction, it would be unclear if Cosby could be retried. Much would depend on whether or not Cosby was given immunity in the original deal. If he was, then no trial was ever possible and Cosby could never be convicted of this crime.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with the serious crime of rape or sexual assault, you will need an attorney who will fight tirelessly to protect your reputation and your livelihood. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and learn more about how we can help.