It’s funny how, when a case has media attention, the meat of the story shifts and alternate meanings are given to everyday happenings. Yes, even in the criminal justice system.
As you have probably heard on sites such as NPR, Bill Cosby was released yesterday from a Pennsylvania prison where he was serving a sentence for being convicted of sexual assault. According to the headlines, the basis for the reversal of the case is an “overlooked agreement”.
Cosby, 83, left the prison in a white car, soon arriving home to what seemed to be a hero’s welcome. Although there was no actual parade, the sounds of fans shouting “we love you,” was present and accounted for. So, too, was the chanting “we believe the women” and the whirl of a news helicopter flying overhead. Cosby flashed the two-finger peace sign and nobody seemed to notice that neither the credibility of the witnesses nor the facts of the case were no longer at issue. They no longer matter.
Cosby was “overjoyed,” his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, told reporters outside the home.
“But as we have always said, this is bigger than Bill Cosby.” Wyatt added. “This is about reforming the criminal justice system.”
If only, Mr. Wyatt. If only.
The Commonwealth’s courts had had their say, leaving Cosby stripped of his convicted sex offender status. He had served more than two years of his three-to-10-year sentence after he was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his Cheltenham, Pa. home in 2004. The state’s highest court threw out Cosby’s conviction after finding that District Attorney Kevin Steele, the prosecutor who had brought the case against Cosby, violated an “agreement” to not charge him that previous District Attorney Bruce Castor had “made” in 2005. This “deal” had apparently never been put in writing.
The majority of the justices wrote in their 79-page opinion that Cosby had relied upon said “deal” when he gave testimony in a civil case filed by Andrea Constand, whose accusations also later formed the basis of the criminal case against him.
Now, dressed and ready for the criminal justice spin cycle, the participants are having their say.
Jennifer Bonjean, an attorney for Cosby, told the Associated Press that prosecutors shouldn’t have tried the case. “District attorneys can’t change it up simply because of their political motivation,” she argued. Holding his position in the opposing aisle, Montgomery County district attorney Steele said that that Cosby had been freed “on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime.” Choosing to side-step the issue further, he added, “I want to commend Cosby’s victim Andrea Constand for her bravery in coming forward and remaining steadfast throughout this long ordeal, as well as all of the other women who have shared similar experiences…My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law — including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”
The issue now well-shrouded in half-truths and boilerplate generalities, we are left to interpret and digest Cosby’s freedom and wonder if this is, indeed, the final act.
Attorney Sam’s Take On The Bill Cosby Prosecutorial “Justice-Go-Round”
During my previous incarnation I did the daily criminal law blog, it was noticed that sometimes the ironies of the criminal justice system bring out the sarcasm in me.
Well, clearly, it has again. Again, I am rising to answer to the call.
Simply, the criminal justice system effects all of us every day. Therefore, the dirty little secrets of it matter.
I remember when the Cosby Show episodes began, the audience was treated to footage of Cosby dancing with the various members of his television family.
Now, reality follows art as the participants of the System enter into a new dance with the super-star. The choreography features side-step shuffles and fancy footwork that can obscure the truth.
But we are going to look behind the dust kicked up and try to expose the truth here. Hence I restart my blogging career.