Bill Cosby’s Pennsylvania District Attorney may have another chance to put the formerly convicted sex offender behind bars.
Kevin Steele, the Montgomery County district attorney who sued Cosby and secured a conviction in 2018, asked the country’s High Court on Monday to review the decision that overturned Cosby’s conviction.
On June 30, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction on constitutional grounds, questioning whether he had received a fair trial and whether his due process rights had been violated. The overthrow argued that the rulings of a previous prosecutor years earlier prevented Cosby from being criminally prosecuted over allegations he assaulted a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
Prosecutors used damaging evidence Cosby turned over in a civil case to convict him of criminal offenses, even though former District Attorney Bruce Castor had told him and the public that the charges were not not on the table.
Cosby, 84, was released from a Pennsylvania state prison hours after the state court ruling.
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In the aftermath of this overthrow, stunned, Steele indicated that he could go to the Supreme Court of the United States; Monday was the deadline to do so.
In a statement, Steele said the issue he presents to the High Court in a writ of certiorari concerns the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
The relevant part of the amendment reads in part: “[N]or any state will deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due legal process. “
“The question put to the court is:” When a prosecutor publicly announces that he will not bring criminal charges on the basis of a lack of evidence, does the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment transform she announces this in a binding promise that no charges will ever be laid? filed, a promise on which the target can rely as if it were a grant of immunity? “,” Steele’s statement said.
In his brief, Steele argues that district attorneys issue public statements all the time. According to Cosby’s reasoning, he says, defendants in these cases could claim “immunity forever” regardless of whether new evidence comes to light or not.
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He urged the court to review the Cosby decision in order to reconcile conflicts with state and federal laws and to avoid potentially widespread case law confusion.
“But now, after the jurisprudential upheaval of the state Supreme Court’s decision in Cosby, there is nationwide uncertainty as to whether eternal immunity can be granted to an accused simply by a public statement. refusing to press charges, ”Steele said in his brief.
The high court does not have to accept the request. Under court rules, it can take up to six weeks for the court to act after a petition has been filed, responses received, the case has circulated among the judges, and a case is finalized. scheduled to be considered at one of the Judges’ Private Conferences on Friday.
Andrew Wyatt, spokesperson for Cosby, released a statement to USA TODAY saying the petition is “pathetic” and a sign of the prosecutor’s “fixation” on Cosby.
“Montgomery County DA asks the United States Supreme Court to throw the Constitution out the window (…) to satisfy the #metoo crowd,” the statement read. “There is no basis for the prosecutor’s request … The (high court) does not generally interfere with decisions of a state’s high court, unless it conflicts decisions of other high state courts or our federal court of appeal.
“This is a pathetic last-ditch effort that will not prevail. The Montgomery County Attorney’s fixation with Mr. Cosby is troubling to say the least,” Wyatt concluded.
Cosby’s lead appeals lawyer Jennifer Bonjean told USA TODAY she will file a response to Steele’s petition. She rejects the argument that there are “material federal issues” in dispute that the court must address, thereby rendering the case “inappropriate” for review by the United States Supreme Court.
She said the case was “more than a press release”. Cosby and his lawyers believed a promise of immunity had been made when he sat for deposition in 2006.
“Steele tries to phrase the question in a misleading way that makes it seem more controversial than it actually is,” she said. “This factual scenario has never happened before and is unlikely to happen again. (The Supreme Court has) no interest in this case, but we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, Steele should focus on protecting the citizens of Montgomery County “rather than trying to save his failed political agenda by jailing an 84-year-old blind man who has already served three years of an illegal sentence,” he said. declared Bonjean.
In his second trial (the first trial ended with a suspended jury in 2017), Cosby was convicted of drugging and assaulting Temple University employee Andrea Constand in his suburb of Philadelphia in 2004 He was sentenced to three to ten years in prison and served nearly three years before being released.
Cosby, an acclaimed actor and comedian once known as “America’s Dad,” became the center of more than 60 sexual assault charges as of the fall of 2014. He was indicted in the Constand case at the in late 2015, when Steele – armed with new unsealed evidence of Cosby’s prejudicial testimony in Constand’s civil trial – arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
When the conviction was overturned, Steele said in a statement to USA TODAY that Cosby “is now free on a procedural matter which has nothing to do with the facts of the crime.” Due to the decision, he said, Cosby could not be tried a third time.
“I hope this decision does not hinder the reporting of sexual assault by victims,” Steele said in the statement. “We always believe that no one is above the law, including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”
Constand issued a statement to USA TODAY through its attorneys in June, saying the state’s high court overturn was “disappointing” because it could discourage victims from coming forward. She described the decision as “procedural technicality”.