Thursday, July 1, 2021

Hey Hey Hey: Bill Cosby Conviction Overturned!

As you may have heard already Bill Cosby's rape conviction was thrown out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Bill Cosby was released from prison. 
He can not be retried. He is as free as a bird. 
The fundamental reason for the action by the Court was that the prosecutors violated Cosby's Fifth Amendment protections by offering a criminal non-prosecution agreement for statements that Cosby made in a civil deposition but then proceeded to use those very same statements in a criminal trial.  
In other words this was something similar to a parent telling their child that as long as the child tells the truth about who took the cookies from the cookie jar the parent won't get mad or punish the child. 
The child  allows as to how s/he might have taken some cookies from the jar, purely by accident with no ill will. The parent flies off the handle and grabs a belt, puts the child in timeout, or uses whatever other punishment is typical for that household.  It's not right.
Bill Cosby had his conviction for sexual assault overturned by a Pennsylvania appeals court on Wednesday, a decision that will set free a man whose case had represented the first high-profile sexual assault trial to unfold in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement.
Mr. Cosby had served three years of a three- to 10-year prison sentence at a maximum-security facility outside Philadelphia when the seven-member Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Cosby, 83, had been denied a fair trial in 2018. In their 79-page opinion, the judges wrote that a “non-prosecution agreement” that had been struck with a previous prosecutor meant that Mr. Cosby should not have been charged in the case, and that he should be discharged. They barred a retrial in the case.
In 2005, Mr. Cosby was investigated in the case of Ms. Constand, and a former district attorney of Montgomery County had given Mr. Cosby his assurance that he would not be charged in the case. The former district attorney, Bruce Castor Jr., has testified that while there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution, he had given Mr. Cosby the assurance to encourage him to testify in a subsequent civil case brought by Ms. Constand.
In that testimony, Mr. Cosby acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex — evidence that played a key part in his trial after Mr. Castor’s successors reopened the case and charged Mr. Cosby in December 2015. That was just days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired in the case, and it came amid a number of new accusations from women who bought similar accusations of drugging and sexual assault against Mr. Cosby.
“In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor D. A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights,” the appeals ruling said. “No other conclusion comports with the principles of due process and fundamental fairness to which all aspects of our criminal justice system must adhere.
NYT

I wrote a long time back that I was agnostic about Cosby's guilt. But it's important to recognize here, that contrary to what the twitter mobs would have you believe, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is not endorsing rape. I don't think there's some deep rooted patriarchal conspiracy to protect an 83 year old Black man. But regardless of your opinion of Cosby's guilt or innocence we can't allow prosecutors to play fast and loose with rules and force accused individuals to incriminate themselves. 
I think that rape is one of the most heinous crimes, second only to murder. But whatever the crime is the accused is still required to get all of his or her constitutional protections. And if the state deliberately doesn't do that then an overturned conviction is the proper result.  Under our laws and constitution Cosby's statements should not have been permitted in his trial. More importantly there never should have been a criminal trial in the first place!
And allowing other people, who never accused Cosby of a crime in a court of law, to testify about his alleged crimes, was just wrong. There are certainly some people who have gone free who I think should have been convicted. And there are some people in prison who in my opinion should be free. But let's not eliminate the Fifth Amendment because we think a crime is particularly heinous or an accused is especially vile.
blog comments powered by Disqus