Bill Cosby’s Conviction Overturned
The serial sex offender will be released from prison.
Breaking from CNN: “Bill Cosby will be released after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania vacated his conviction and judgment of sentence, according Stacey Witalec, spokesman for Pennsylvania’s highest court.”
One imagines something rather spectacular happened to simply throw out the conviction. Updates when they’re available.
UPDATE: I was right. AP has far more detail:
Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction Wednesday after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case.
Cosby has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. He had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge any remorse over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
He was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence — Cosby’s damaging deposition from her lawsuit — arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
The 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 when he later gave potentially incriminating testimony in Constand’s civil suit. 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 he later gave potentially incriminating testimony in the Constand’s civil suit.
They said that overturning the conviction, and barring any further prosecution, “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system.”
This strikes me as the legally correct outcome and, indeed, one would hope Steele would face heavy sanction. Additionally, the trial judge screwed up royally:
The trial judge had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial, when the jury deadlocked. However, he then allowed five other accusers to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby in the 1980s.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that testimony tainted the trial, even though a lower appeals court had found it appropriate to show a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women.
I don’t see how any judge thought this was admissible.
As a matter of justice, of course, it stinks. Cosby is almost certainly guilty of multiple sexual assaults, if not rapes, and is going to be exonerated. On the other hand, he has served two years in jail that, legally speaking, he shouldn’t have.