Prosecutors ask the United States Supreme Court to review the ruling it overturned Bill cosbyconviction of sexual assault, arguing in a petition Monday that a dangerous precedent could be set if the press releases are treated as immunity agreements.
Cosby’s attorneys have long argued that he relied on a promise that he would never be charged when he gave damaging testimony in a 2006 civil suit for a prosecutor. Admissions were later used against him in two criminal trials.
The only written evidence of such a promise is a 2005 press release from then-prosecutor Bruce Castor, who said he did not have sufficient evidence to arrest Cosby.
The statement included an ambiguous “warning” that Castor “will reconsider this decision if the need arises.” Since then, the parties have spent years debating what that meant.
“This decision, as it stands, will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The United States Supreme Court can correct what we believe to be a grave error, ”Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele wrote in the petition, which seeks a Supreme Court review under the due process clause. of the United States Constitution.
Prosecutors have also complained that the chief judge of the state’s superior court appeared to misrepresent key facts of the case when he discussed the court’s ruling overturning Cosby’s conviction in a television interview.
Castor’s successors, who gathered new evidence and arrested Cosby in 2015, say he has not reached a lifetime immunity deal. They also doubt that Castor ever made such a deal. Instead, they say Cosby had strategic reasons for giving the deposition rather than invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, even if it backfired when he “made a mistake” in his inconsistent testimony.
However, defense attorneys say the case should never have gone to trial because of what they call a “non-prosecution agreement.”
Cosby, 84, became the first celebrity convicted of sexual assault in the #MeToo era when the jury at his 2018 retrial found him guilty of drugging and sexually abusing college sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.
He spent nearly three years in prison before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released him in June.
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Steele’s attempt to revive the case is a long shot. The United States Supreme Court accepts less than one percent of the petitions it receives. However, legal academics and victim advocates will be watching closely to see if the court is interested in a high-profile #MeToo case.
Two court judges, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, were charged with sexual misconduct during the confirmation hearings they bitterly held.
Appellate judges have expressed very different opinions on the Cosby case. An intermediate state court upheld the conviction. Then the seven Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices wrote three separate opinions on the matter.
Most found that Cosby relied on the decision not to prosecute him when he admitted to administering drugs and alcohol to a number of young women prior to sexual encounters. The court did not conclude that such an agreement existed, but said Cosby thought that yes, that trust, they said, marred his conviction.
But prosecutors say that conclusion is wrong. They note that Cosby’s attorneys objected to the deposition questions rather than letting him speak freely.
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Cosby himself has never testified about any agreement or promise. The only alleged participant to come forward is Castor, a political rival of Steele who went on to represent President Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial. Castor said he made the promise to a defense attorney for Cosby, now deceased, and got nothing in return.
He never mentioned it to senior assistant Risa Ferman, who led his investigation on Cosby.
He later became a district attorney and reopened the case in 2015 after a federal judge opened Cosby’s statement.
At a notable pre-trial hearing in February 2016, Castor spent hours testifying for the defense. He said he wrote the press release himself, after business hours, and intended to convey different levels of meaning to lawyers, the press and the public.
The judge did not find it credible and sent the case to trial.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its June 30 ruling, called Cosby’s arrest “an affront to fundamental justice.”
Weeks later, the ruling prompted the state attorney general to dismiss 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.
Cosby, an innovative black actor and comedian, created the world-class “Cosby Show” in the 1980s. Later, a spate of sexual assault allegations destroyed his image as “America’s Daddy” and led to court settlements. billionaires with at least eight women. But Constand’s was the only case that resulted in criminal charges.
Five of them testified for the prosecution to support Constand’s claims, testimony that Cosby’s attorneys also challenged on appeal. However, the state’s superior court declined to address the thorny issue of how many other prosecutors can testify in criminal cases before the evidence becomes unfair to the defense.
In a recent report, Constand said the verdict is less important than the growing support for survivors of sexual assault inspired by the #MeToo movement.
“The outcome of the trial seemed strangely unimportant. It was as if the world had changed again in a much more significant way, “Constand wrote in the book” The Moment. “
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