Bill Cosby retrial begins

Posted on Apr 9, 2018 in Business Litigation

Opening statements in Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges get underway in suburban Philadelphia Monday in what all sides — defense, prosecution and especially the judge — hope will not be a rerun of the deadlocked jury failure that ended Cosby’s first trial last June.  Here is a snapshot of where we are:

The accusations:  Cosby, now 80 years old, has been charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault when, in 2004 while his home in suburban Philadelphia, he allegedly drugged and molested Andrea Constand, the ex-Temple University basketball manager. Constand waited a year to report the incident to the police and, at the time, the authorities declined to prosecute. So did sue Cosby in a civil action, during which time he was deposed and answered questions.  The settlement, which remained confidential, occurred in 2006.  After several accusers went public against Cosby, the press persuaded a judge to release a portion of that deposition where Cosby admitted that he had given women drugs so that he could have sex with them.  The criminal case was commenced in December 2015, weeks before the expiration of Pennsylvania’s unusually lengthy statute of limitations for sex crimes.

The retrial:  The judge declared a hung jury after it was deadlocked following six trial days and five days of deliberations, Steele took office in November 2015 after a campaign in which one of his political ads attacked his opponent for failing to prosecute Cosby in 2005.   It is unknown how many jurors voted to convict Cosby after the first trial, with some reports that the jury was locked at 10 – 2 ( to convict) and others reporting that it was a 6 – 6 tie.

Who has the Advantage now:  The general rule is that the party who received the most votes has an advantage at a retrial, but that number remains uncertain.  Also, generally, the defense has an advantage after the first criminal trial because the case is now older and the defense now knows the victim’s precise testimony.  But, in the retrial, there are three material differences, any of which can swing the case one way or the other.  First, while the new jury’s gender and racial make-up is the same (the 12 jurors include seven men and five women; 10 are white and two are black),  they are younger and the jury has been picked from Montgomery County, a somewhat more conservative area than suburban Pittsburgh, where the first jury came from.  Second, favoring the prosecutor, Judge O’Neill is now allowing for the prosecutor to call five other accusers to bolster its case when he only allowed for one in the first trial.  Third, however, the Court is now allowing Marguerite Jackson to testify that she heard Constand, her friend and co-worker, talk about “framing” a high-profile celebrity to get money prior to going to the police in 2005.  That evidence could be devastating to the prosecution.  And let’s not forget that at the second trial, just like the first, there will be no rape kit, no DNA evidence, no toxicology tests, no witnesses, no semen-stained clothes and no viral videos.  One critical issue that yet remains is whether the Court will allow in Cosby’s deposition testimony wherein he admitted he obtained quaaludes to give to women he sought for sex.  O’Neill had not yet ruled on whether he will allow jurors to hear that testimony and will decide during the course of the trial

Does this Trial matter:  Proponents of the trial believe it is important because out of the over 60 women accusers, this is the only criminal trial to go forward, as the others were all past the statute of limitations.  With the new #metoo movement taking front and center in the media since the first trial, this case is vital to that cause.

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