PHILADELPHIA (AP/KDKA) — Prosecutors have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that overturned Bill Cosby’s conviction, arguing in a petition Monday that the decision was upheld. announced in a press release does not grant the defendant lifetime immunity.
Prosecutors said the ruling could set a dangerous precedent if charges are unearthed over opaque transactions. They also complained that the chief justice of the state’s supreme court appeared to misrepresent key facts of the case as he discussed the court ruling that overturned Cosby’s conviction in an interview. on television.
“This decision will now have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court of the United States may be right what we believe to be gravely wrong,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele wrote in the petition, which asked the Supreme Court to consider it under the due process clause. of the United States Constitution.
Cosby’s attorneys have long argued that he relied on a promise that he would never be charged when he gave damaging testimony in the accuser’s civil lawsuit in 2006.
The admission was later used against him in two criminal trials.
The only written evidence of such a promise was a 2005 press release from then-prosecutor Bruce Castor, who said he did not have enough evidence to arrest Cosby.
The release included an ambiguous “caution” that Castor “will review this decision if the need arises.” The parties have spent years debating what that means.
Castor’s successors, who gathered new evidence and arrested Cosby in 2015, say they failed to reach an agreement for a lifetime immunity. They also suspect that Castor ever made such an arrangement. Instead, they said, Cosby had a strategic reason to refuse to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, even if it backfired when “he slipped” in his testimony. his rambling.
However, defense attorneys say the case should not have gone to trial because of what they called a “non-prosecution agreement”.
Cosby, 84, became the first celebrity to be found guilty of sexual assault in the #MeToo era when a jury at his 2018 retrial found him guilty of drugging and abuse sex college sports manager Andrea Constand in 2004. While the trial took place in suburban Philadelphia, the jury’s selection took place located in Pittsburgh.
He spent nearly three years in prison before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released him in June.
Steele’s attempt to revive the case was a long shot. The US Supreme Court accepts less than 1% of the petitions it receives. However, legal scholars and victim advocates will be watching closely to see if the court is interested in a high-profile #MeToo case.
Two judges on the court, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, were charged with sexual misconduct during their fiercely contested confirmation hearings.
The appellate judges expressed distinctly different views on the Cosby case. A state intermediate court upheld the conviction. Later, seven judges in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania wrote three separate opinions on it.
The majority said Cosby relied on his decision not to prosecute him when he admitted to giving a series of young women drugs and alcohol before having sex. The court did not find that there was such an agreement, but Cosby said there was – that trust, they said, clouded his conviction.
But prosecutors called that conclusion flawed. They noted that Cosby’s lawyers vehemently opposed the demeaning questions rather than leaving him free to speak.
Cosby himself never testified about any agreements or promises. The only alleged involvement brought forward was Castor, a political opponent of Steele who went on to represent President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Castor said he made a promise to the defense attorney for the now-dead Cosby and received nothing in return.
He never mentioned it to top assistant Risa Ferman, who led his Cosby investigation.
She later became a district attorney and reopened the case in 2015 after a federal judge overturned Cosby’s removal.
At a remarkable pre-trial hearing in February 2016, Castor spent hours testifying in the defense. He said he typed the press release himself after hours and intended it to convey different layers of meaning to lawyers, the press and the public.
The judge found him unreliable and took the case to trial.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its June 30 ruling, called Cosby’s arrest “an insult to fundamental fairness.”
Weeks later, the ruling prompted the state attorney general to dismiss charges against a prison warden who allegedly sexually abused female inmates, because of an earlier agreement with county prosecutors that allowed him to resign instead of facing charges.
Cosby, a breakout Black actor and comedian, created the top-rated “Cosby Show” in the 1980s. A subsequent series of sexual assault allegations destroyed his image. as “America’s Father” and led to multimillion-dollar court settlements with at least eight women. But Constand was the only case that led to criminal charges.
Five of them testified for the prosecution to support Constand’s claims, which Cosby’s attorneys also contested on appeal. However, the state high court refused to settle the conundrum of how many other accusers can testify in criminal cases before the evidence becomes unfair to the defense. .
In a recent memoir, Constand calls the verdict less important than the growing support for sexual assault survivors inspired by the #MeToo movement.
“The outcome of the trial seems strangely unimportant. It was as if the world had changed again in some much more significant way,” Constand writes in his book, “The Moment.”
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https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/11/29/bill-cosby-case-us-supreme-court/ Prosecutor Bill Cosby Takes Case to US Supreme Court – CBS Pittsburgh