Prosecutors asked the US supreme court to review the ruling that overturned Bill Cosby’s conviction, arguing in a petition Monday that a decision announced in a press release does not give a defendant lifetime immunity.
Prosecutors said the ruling could set a dangerous precedent if convictions are overturned over dubious closed-door deals. They have also complained that the chief judge of Pennsylvania’s high court appeared to misstate key facts of the case when he discussed the court ruling that overturned Cosby’s conviction in a television interview.
“The US supreme court can right what we believe is a grievous wrong,” wrote Kevin Steele, Montgomery county’s district attorney, in the petition, which seeks a supreme court review under the due process clause of the US constitution.
Cosby’s lawyers have long argued that he relied on a promise that he would never be charged when he gave damaging testimony in an accuser’s civil suit in 2006.
The admissions were later used against him in two criminal trials.
The only written evidence of such a promise is a 2005 press release from the then prosecutor, Bruce Castor, who said he did not have enough evidence to arrest Cosby.
The release included an ambiguous “caution” that Castor “will reconsider this decision should the need arise”. The parties have since spent years debating what that meant.
Castor’s successors, who gathered new evidence and arrested Cosby in 2015, say it falls far short of a lifetime immunity agreement. They also doubt that Castor ever made such a deal. 反而, they say Cosby had strategic reasons to give the deposition rather than invoke his fifth amendment right to remain silent, even if it backfired when “he slipped up” in his rambling testimony.
然而, defense lawyers 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 molesting college sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.
He spent nearly three years in prison before the Pennsylvania supreme court set him free in June.
Steele’s bid to revive the case is a long shot. The US supreme court accepts fewer than 1% of the petitions it receives. Legal scholars and victim advocates will be watching closely, 尽管, to see if the court takes an interest in a high-profile #MeToo case.
Two justices on the court, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, were accused of sexual misconduct during their bitterly fought confirmation hearings.
Cosby, a groundbreaking Black actor and comedian, created the top-ranked Cosby Show in the 1980s. A barrage of sexual assault allegations later destroyed his image as America’s Dad and led to multimillion-dollar court settlements with at least eight women. But Constand’s was the only case to lead to criminal charges.
Five of them testified for the prosecution to support Constand’s claims, testimony that Cosby’s lawyers also challenged on appeal. 然而, the state’s high court declined to address the thorny issue of how many other accusers can testify in criminal cases before the evidence becomes unfair to the defense.
In a recent memoir, Constand called the verdict less important than the growing support for sexual assault survivors inspired by the #MeToo movement.
“The outcome of the trial seemed strangely unimportant. It was as if the world had again shifted in some much more significant way,” Constand wrote in the book, The Moment.