Bill Cosby is a free man after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction that sent him to jail roughly three years ago to serve 3-10 years for sexual assault. The opinion (below) correctly found that the trial judge and prosecutors denied Cosby a fair trial and due process in 2018. The question now is whether Cosby might seek damages for his conviction and incarceration.
In their 79-page opinion, the judges found that a “non-prosecution agreement” reached with Cosby should have barred the prosecution. In the earlier agreement, the prosecutor, Bruce Castor Jr., agreed not to charge Cosby in return for his civil deposition. He proceeded to incriminate himself in what the Court said was a bait-and-switch. The later prosecutor then just ignored the nonprosecution agreement. The trial was also undermined by the decision of the trial court to allow women to testify as witnesses on uncharged alleged crimes against Cosby.
It is clear that, absent the agreement, Cosby would never have agreed to the four depositions. Free of the threat of prosecution, Cosby incriminated himself. Dolores Troiani., counsel for Andrea Constand, asked “When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” Cosby replied, “Yes.” That and other statements were used at his criminal trial.
Kevin Steele, the Montgomery County district attorney who convicted Cosby, issued a statement that was embarrassing in its evasion of responsibility. He dismissed the ruling as “a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime.” Obviously, it was quite relevant because Steele proved a crime by unconstitutional means. Yet, Steele seems entirely unwilling to acknowledge his errors and declared that
“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 statement is breathtaking. Of course it could undermine such reports since Steele engineered an unconstitutional verdict that led to Cosby prevailing. Moreover, Steele is right, “no one is above the law” including prosecutors who are not allowed to pursue convictions at any cost in popular high-profile cases.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill (who the defense sought to force off the case for bias) also has much to answer for in this wrongful conviction. O’Neill at trial seemed hellbent to try the case. He virtually mocked the defense arguments on the nonprosecution agreement: O’Neill, rejected that claim, saying, “There’s no other witness to the promise. The rabbit is in the hat and you want me at this point to assume: ‘Hey, the promise was made, judge. Accept that.’”
The victims should be most upset with the prosecutors and the judge. Any chance to prosecute Cosby was lost in a trial that discarded the most basic requirements of due process. The case shows how the gravitational pull of high-profile cases can grotesquely distort trials. The court yielded to prosecutorial demands that were facially unconstitutional. For the prosecution and the judge, the trial was popular with many. However, the ultimate result was the denial of these victims of a defensible verdict and the denial of this defendant of due process.
One question is whether Cosby could now sue for not just the prosecution but the incarceration in light of the ruling of the Supreme Court. Roughly 30 states and the District of Columbia have statutes allowing for recovery for wrongful convictions and imprisonment. Pennsylvania is not one of them (which is quite surprising).
However, recently Gov. Tom Wolf included in his budget plan a proposal for Pennsylvania to pay people who were wrongly convicted $50,000 for each year that they were held behind bars. Cosby would qualify under such a program.
A federal case in North Carolina recently resulted in $75 million in damages for two wrongly convicted men but that award was in the federal system. The men were sent to death row.
A Pennsylvania man is currently suing in federal court for wrongful conviction.
Likewise, there have been Pennsylvania cases that have resulted in settlements. One man reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia for wrongful conviction worth $9.8 million. Another man reached a settlement for $6.25 million.
As the first major prosecution in the “MeToo” period, a settlement does not seem likely for Cosby.
So Cosby could sue but would have to do so in a state that does not have a wrongful conviction provision. It must be done under common law, which is challenging. Under common law, Cosby could sued for malicious prosecution. The elements of that tort are (1) the individual was prosecuted without probable cause by law enforcement officers, (2) the prosecution occurred with malice, or recklessness to the lack of probable cause, and (3) the prosecution ultimately terminated in favor of the accused.
Cosby would likely qualify in states with formal compensation systems. He could also make a plausible case for malicious prosecution.
Pennsylvania cases for malicious prosecution are based on the Restatement (Second) of Torts. Section 653 of the Restatement provides:
A private person who initiates or procures the institution of criminal proceedings against another who is not guilty of the offense charged is subject to liability for malicious prosecution if (a) he initiates or procures the proceedings without probable cause and primarily for a purpose other than that of bringing an offender to justice, and (b) the proceedings have terminated in favor of the accused.
Crosby was targeted by Steele and others in a defining prosecution for the MeToo Movement. To make the case, Steele disregarded basic legal protections that led to the conviction being overturned. It was not just legally malicious, it was overtly malicious.
Ultimately, his lawsuit could present Gov. Wolf with a political dilemma. Cosby has cognizable claims for wrongful conviction and malicious prosecution. However, he is not exactly a popular cause for many in Pennsylvania. Roughly 50 women accused him and Cosby admitted to giving drugs to his alleged victims before sexual acts. Bill Cosby is the ultimate example that you do not have to be entirely innocent to be wrongly convicted.
Here is the opinion: Cosby v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
A version of this column appeared on Fox.com
62 thoughts on “Could Cosby Sue For Wrongful Conviction?”
Allow me to repost here a previous post I made since it is germane to this discussion of sexual harassment:
“Fox News Agrees to $1 Million Fine for Violating Human Rights Law”
As a free speech advocate, our esteemed Professor Turley should analyze the free speech implications of Non-disclosure agreements demanded by the company for which he works:
“Labor lawyer Nancy Erika Smith, who represented former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson in the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit that cost Ailes his job (and won Carlson a $20 million settlement from Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox), called the right-leaning cable channel’s settlement agreement, especially its admission of guilt, “monumental.”
“Until now, “I’m not aware of any government agency requiring an employer to stop silencing victims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and that’s what NDAs and arbitration do—they silence victims,” Smith told The Daily Beast. “So bravo! Finally! The government is seeing that silencing victims protects harassers.”
Will Turley forthrightly provide his expert opinion of the guilty conduct of his employer Fox or will he simply ignore the silencing of victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation?
It’s been a couple of days now and so far nothing but silence from Turley. Perhaps, he has signed a Non-Disclosure/Disparagement Agreement with Fox News?
“Will Turley forthrightly . . .” — ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
Someone please teach this pony a new trick.
Turley summed it up by claiming:
“Bill Cosby is the ultimate example that you do not have to be entirely innocent to be wrongly convicted.”
“not entirely innocent.” Spoken like a true defense lawyer! That’s like saying “not entirely pregnant.” You either is or you ain’t!
What’s being lost in all of the complaints about prosecutorial misconduct and Cosby and his attorneys’ celebratory victory laps is that he is guilty as sin. Under oath, he admitted drugging women with Quaaludes in order to rape them. But for the drugging, he could argue consensual sex, but he did administer Quaaludes without their knowledge and consent, so it is rape. And, it’s not just one woman, it’s dozens. Cosby is NO victim, and but for the “me too” movement would still be pretending to be an upstanding family man, because women fear to come forward when a celebrity is the rapist, which is one reason there are so many victims. And, what about his pathetic wifey, who stands by his side, like he’s a hero who has been vindicated? She has sold her dignity for money and a comfortable lifestyle. Yes, the prosecutors did engage in misconduct, and for that reason, reversing his conviction was the proper thing to do, but this is just one of the dozens of cases, and no one should lose sight of that fact. Cosby needs to just go away and vanish from public sight.
I do believe that Bill Cosby is guilty as sin. I also believe he was prosicuted because he took a social/political stance that the liberal left wing establishment didn’t want a well known personality like him to promote.
He could sue for violation of 5th and 14th amendment via section 1983
Ultimately, long term, cheating by prosecutors harms poor people and African-Americans the most. Since the so-called War on Drugs in the late 1960’s millions of African-Americans have been destroyed by prosecutorial misconduct – millions of Americans at a cost exceeding $1.2 trillion in taxpayer dollars. These abuses were then exploited by the Bush Administration destroying more innocent Americans after 9/11.
This case is clearer than most but poor people pay the price for bad prosecutors, so there are many winners when good judges suppress illegal evidence. Americans should be happy when good judges do their jobs.
Such prosecutorial misconduct is heartbreaking.
The statute of limitations has run out. He’s been in prison for most of that time, thereby not assaulting any more women. There are women who couldn’t bring charges because they waited too long, a decision with consequences. And there may have been more recent victims that did not feel it necessary to step into the spotlight, as he was convicted and serving time. Now it’s too late.
Parents, teach your children what to do if such a heartbreaking crime occurs. Do not shower or remove any evidence. Burn rubber to the local police station. Do not let someone’s fame or power cow you. Even if there is not enough evidence to convict, there will be an official record of your allegation. That can be used to show a pattern if the person reoffends.
Women can feel ashamed and embarrassed. They look back on poor judgement, like accepting an unknown pill from a movie star, and blame themselves. But making a mistake doesn’t mean that there should be no consequences for the perpetrator.
Women, learn from these victims’ heartbreaks. Don’t get so drunk that you lose control. Don’t willingly take drugs that will render you helpless. Don’t take drugs at all. You have no idea what’s in it, other than someone’s word who probably didn’t manufacture it. Protect yourself as well as you can. And no matter what, even if you made some errors in judgement, don’t allow a man who drugged you and assaulted you to get away with it. That’s different than two people deliberately getting drunk or high together, getting together, and then regretting it later. There was a pattern of lying about what Cosby was giving the women, or adulterating drinks without telling them. In one of the cases, the woman was feeling ill and Cosby told her it was a decongestant. Some of these women filed police reports at the time, but there was insufficient evidence. Again, it is vitally important to preserve evidence, even if it means going to a hospital and getting a blood test to identify a drug in your bloodstream.
Preserve evidence. Report.
Professor Turley, if Cosby sues for wrongful conviction, then as the plaintiff in the civil action, he waives his 5th Amendment right to be immune from having his prior deposition testimony used against him; and in fact, loses the right to block a new deposition of Cosby in the wrongful conviction lawsuit. This would permit the defendant State of PA to prove the underlying facts of the rape allegations and Cosby would lose.
Bill Cosby is out of jail and that is a good thing. Ultimately, the Justice system worked. Yet, justice may not have been done. It was for Cosby as it should have been, but not for the victims he admitted to giving drugs for sex. This case proves you cannot break the law to enforce the law.
For those of you that think he got away with it, I doubt his profile raises much and I seriously doubt he ever gains his popularity back. He can claim victim hood because he is a victim, but he is also an admitted abuser by his own words. That will haunt him.
It will be interesting to see if either prosecuted faces discipline as they should.
TQM, well said. You can’t break the law to enforce the law is the best summary so far. So heartbreaking.
Cosby is NO victim. Did you forget that in the civil case he admitted under oath to administering Quaaludes to his victims without their knowledge, before having sex with them? Drugging them mitigates consent. The prosecutor engaged in misconduct by reneging on the agreement not to use his testimony in any criminal case, so Cosby’s conviction was properly overturned, but that doesn’t exonerate him for the conduct he was convicted of. He can’t sue under the PA statute cited by Turley because there WAS probable cause to charge him. I haven’t researched PA cases involving the second prong–that the case terminated in favor of the accused, but I would assume that this provision was intended by the PA Legislature to apply when the accused was acquitted on the merits, not when there is prosecutorial misconduct.
Corruption is the judicial branch’s middle name.
Was the Supreme Court sworn to support or thwart the Constitution?
This is an absolutely ridiculous jurisprudential aberration.
The “prosecutor” who committed this “oversight” likely did so on purpose and for a…reason, in my opinion.
Bill Cosby’s victims are still Bill Cosby’s victims.
And you wonder why Trump wants to drain the “swamp.”
The prosecutor and the judge should lose their law license. If a doctor committed such an act of gross negligence, they would lose their medical license. Fair is fair.
Judges have absolute immunity, but not prosecutors.
Clarification: judicial immunity is for official acts taken as a judge, not for conduct outside of judicial functions. This body of law was developed when judges would order people deemed “undesirable” to be sterilized without their consent during the Eugenics Movement. Some of those sterilized tried to sue, but couldn’t because of immunity.
Serial philanderer Donald Trump should be the first to resign from this amorphous “swamp”.
Are you an idiot or what. Trump hasn’t broken the law with his relationships. No, they were not right or moral, but they were not unlawful.
Michael: You betray your ignorance.
From Reuters, Feb. 24, 2021: “Trump may soon have to answer rape allegations under oath.”
First case involves one E. Jean Carroll, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Trump in a fitting room of a Manhattan department store.
Second case: one Summer Zervos, who alleges sexual assault by Donald Trump in a California hotel room.
Accusations could snowball, as in the case of Bill Cosby.
A Voice in the Wilderness:
Any allegation of sexual assault should be investigated, no matter who the accuser or accused are. Proving decades old allegations can be very difficult, as can defending oneself against them.
Bill Clinton was accused of raping Juanita Broaddrick. Now, there is some evidence from that allegation. Her friend says that she found her soon after the incident, crying, with her upper lip bitten. Her future husband also says that her upper lip was black from bruising, and that she told him Bill had raped her.
If she had made a police report, there would have been photographs in evidence of these injuries. It was before DNA testing, but at least there would have been some physical evidence. There would have been hotel staff who likely saw her in parts of the hotel, and then perhaps saw her afterward with injuries. But her decision not to press charges means that evidence is lost. The decision not to press charges has consequences. At least there are a couple of witnesses that her lip was injured, but without police photographs showing the likely bruising she would have had, she’s lost some important foundational evidence. That made her vulnerable to the he said she said credibility contest.
E Jean Carroll claims Trump assaulted her in a major NYC department store, known for their customer service. She claims it was deserted. She did not think it was rape until she said a friend told her it was. She did not press charges at the time. There does not appear to have been any evidence that anyone forced her to do anything, but she does say she still has the unlaundered dress.
It is my understanding that she is suing Trump for defamation, because he implied she fabricated the accusation to sell a book. The DOJ’s position is that the Westfall Act immunizes Trump because he made that claim that she made up the story to sell a book while he was in office. It takes no position on who is telling the truth. If she saved a dress like Monica Lewinsky, and IF it has Trump’s DNA on it, how could you tell if an encounter was consensual or not without any evidence?
I will say that if she does have a dress with Trump’s DNA on it, her claims that he’s lying about not knowing her would be supported. He says he had no idea who she was, and that a photograph of her talking to him at an event was just one of tens of thousands of people who have attended such events. Her lawyer said analysis of the coat dress had the DNA of four different unidentified people on the sleeves. What kind of DNA? Sperm DNA? Hair? Skin cells from brushing against someone’s arm?
She said she agreed to go into a dressing room with him, at a swanky NYC department store, Bergdorf’s, in order to try on a sexy bodysuit he planned to buy for his girlfriend. Why would she offer to try on lingerie in front of a famous man she’d met for the first time in a dressing room? Who tries on lingerie right in front of a man they just men? That sounds like a hookup with a total stranger. In a department store.
Trump has a history of being promiscuous over his lifetime. He’s likely had many hookups. I don’t know if he’s remembered them all, but I do think he lied about affairs he had with Playmates while married. The question is if they had sex, and if it was consensual, the latter being the most important.
If his DNA is on the sleeve of her dress, what kind of DNA is it? Haploid sperm or diploid somatic cell? If it’s a somatic cell, on her sleeve, it could have come from anywhere. If his sperm is on her sleeve, then they hooked up and he lied about it, but there would be no way of telling if it was consensual or not. She claims he only partially penetrated her and then stopped due to her efforts to push him away, so it’s unlikely to be sperm on her sleeve.
Choosing not to press charges at the time, and then making an accusation decades later of sexual assault is very difficult.
Karen S: I appreciate your enlightening post.
If Trump is forced to “answer rape allegations under oath,” it cannot be a criminal proceeding. You may want to apologize to Michael.
AZBadger: Michael may want to apologize for calling me an “idiot”.
But the shoe fits
Let’s see here, if a leftist doesn’t agree with you, you are either a racist, a homophobe, or a sexist. I’m sure I left something out. Personal attacks are their specialty.
“[We gave you] a republic, if you can keep it.”
– Ben Franklin
China says the U.S. is a third world country.
Jurisprudence in the United States in criminal law rests the bedrock of one legal principle and value.
Innocent until proven guilt.
Bill Cosby was not proven guilt.
Justice was not done to Bill Cosby and it was not done to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In 2005, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor
performed his legal duties in the proper, just manner.
The relevant Pennsylvania Supreme Court words are here, which I offer as proof:
Having determined that a criminal trial likely could not be won, D.A. Castor contemplated an alternative course of action that could place Constand on a path to some form of justice. He decided that a civil lawsuit for money damages was her best option. To aid Constand in that pursuit, “as the sovereign,” the district attorney “decided that [his office] would not prosecute  Cosby,” believing that his decision ultimately “would then set off the chain of events that [he] thought as a Minister of Justice would gain some justice for Andrea Constand.” Id. at 63-64. By removing the threat of a criminal prosecution, D.A. Castor reasoned, Cosby would no longer be able in a civil lawsuit to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination for fear that his statements could later be used against him by the Commonwealth. Mr. Castor would later testify that this was his intent:
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that a person may not be compelled to give evidence against themselves. So you can’t subpoena somebody and make them testify that they did something illegal or evidence that would lead someone to conclude they did something illegal on the threat of if you don’t answer, you’ll be subject to sanctions because you’re under subpoena.
So the way you remove that from a witness is if you want to, and what I did in this case is I made the decision as the sovereign that Mr. Cosby would not be prosecuted no matter what. As a matter of law, that then made it so that he could not take the Fifth Amendment ever as a matter of law.
So I have heard banter in the courtroom and in the press the term “agreement,” but everybody has used the wrong word. I told [Cosby’s attorney at the time, Walter] Phillips that I had decided that, because of
[J-100-2020] – 10
defects in the case, that the case could not be won and that I was going to make a public statement that we were not going to charge Mr. Cosby.
I told him that I was making it as the sovereign Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and, in my legal opinion, that meant that Mr. Cosby would not be allowed to take the Fifth Amendment in the subsequent civil suit that Andrea Constand’s lawyers had told us they wanted to bring.
[Attorney] Phillips agreed with me that that is, in fact, the law of Pennsylvania and of the United States and agreed that if Cosby was subpoenaed, he would be required to testify.
But those two things were not connected one to the other. Mr. Cosby was not getting prosecuted at all ever as far as I was concerned. And my belief was that, as the Commonwealth and the representative of the sovereign, that I had the power to make such a statement and that, by doing so, as a matter of law Mr. Cosby would be unable to assert the Fifth Amendment in a civil deposition.
[Attorney] Phillips, a lawyer of vastly more experience even than me and I had 20 years on the job by that point agreed with my legal assessment. And he said that he would communicate that to the lawyers who were representing Mr. Cosby in the pending civil suit.
Id. at 64-66. Recalling his thought process at the time, the former district attorney further emphasized that it was “absolutely” his intent to remove “for all time” the possibility of prosecution, because “the ability to take the Fifth Amendment is also for all time removed.” Id. at 67.
Kevin Steele, the Montgomery County district attorney who convicted Bill Cosby, not unlike professor with his words, “Bill Cosby is the ultimate example that you do not have to be entirely innocent to be wrongly convicted.”, played to the mob, the rabble and to the maddening crowd.
Neither attorney Steele nor the professor have any interest in, nor concern for justice. They want to arouse the rabble. To take some imaginary high ground.
Neither attorney Steele nor the professor want to stand on the principle or the value of justice. Why? Because they see injustice. They appeal to the mob, the rabble and the maddening crowd.
I, for one, find the words and actions of attorney Kevin Steel and the professor disgusting.
Why am I wrong?
I have been saying here for awhile that the trend to identity politics and, particularly, the attacks on whites for ‘white fragility’ or ‘white supremacy’ or the like is dangerous because the one large population, the white population, that had embraced post-racialism and getting along is going to drop that ideal and possibly become as tribal as other groups. That risks tearing our society apart.
Now Charles Murray in his new book, FACING REALITY, is saying the same thing. On page 115 he heads a chapter, IF WHITES ADOPT IDENTITY POLITICS DISASTER FOLLOWS.
Razib Khan who is very, very smart and who sometimes identifies as a ‘brown person’ has warned those pushing identity politics to “stop! You are going to get us all killed.” [Reasonable paraphrase, perhaps not an exact quote].
The dangers are real even if not as bad as Razib fears. I can see a change in tone in some white attitudes outside of academia where every word is guarded and self-censored on this subject.. The attitude is leaning toward, “You want us to remember we are white? Okay, we will remember. Easy since you don’t intend to let us forget it.”
The race hustlers on the street, in academia, media, government, and big tech are standing in pools of gasoline wondering if they should keep playing with matches.
Trumpists won’t forgive blacks for slavery and discrimination just like some Rightwing Germans won’t forgive the Jews for persecution and the Holocaust.
Jeff, as a Jew (like myself) you should be ashamed of invoking the Nazis when looking for Trump supporters analogies. How dare you compare people that supported Trump to Germans that killed 6 million Jews. You have an illness, a hatred that is vile and as usual your comments are juvenile, ridiculous and nastily partisan.
Hulibobby– I agree with you. Either Jeff is seriously warped or he is devoid of principles and takes pay to push the narrative his masters assign to him. Both smell.
If one is looking for genuine, and sometimes rabid, antisemitism look to the Democrats and, in particular, to the witches of the squad
Labour in the UK is corrupted with it as well. I never thought I would see its return in my lifetime, but here it is.
Young, embrace the healing power of ‘and’.
Iowan, And I am pleased you found what is important to you.
I did NOT compare Trumpists to Nazis. I compared them to Germans living today (unlike Nazis who have died off) who complain that they are sick and tired of being reminded of the Holocaust. Trumpists are similarly sick and tired of being reminded about the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow and decades of racial discrimination.
I have made this apt analogy before, and I will continue to make it, like it or not.
“Sick and tired of being reminded of the Holocaust”….really?
So…the Germans today can write that bit of frolic out of their history?
Their predecessors MURDERED MILLIONS, waged aggressive War that killed TENS OF MILLIONS….and they are sick and tired of being reminded of that…..really?
Excuse me if I think they should be required to take annual training on the Holocaust and perhaps be required to visit Auschwitz Concentration Camp as part of their Summer Holiday.
Matter of fact….perhaps that is what is needed to cure the Left of their rancid hatred of everyone who differ in their views from those of the Left.
Hate that is not ostracized by Society leads to what happened during the Holocaust, in Rawanda, and Yugoslavia and in the Middle East.
There should be no tolerance of hate in any civilized society.
I could not agree more, the Trumpists should not be able to lightly dismiss the deeply rooted racism which pervaded until relatively recently in this country and the vestiges of discrimination which still exist as exposed by CRT. Unfortunately, the Trumpists who invaded the Capitol should have visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. instead of wasting their lives listening to election lies by Trump and his sycophants.
“I did NOT compare Trumpists to Nazis.”
Yes you did.
The faction of the German Right you referred to, i.e., those “who complain that they are sick and tired of being reminded of the Holocaust,” are well-documented and well-known Neo-Nazis.
I’m sure there are Neo-Nazis in Germany, just as there are Neo-Nazis in America. However, I am referring to those Rightwing Germans who resent being reminded of the Holocaust 70 years after the fact not unlike Trumpists who claim they are being “lectured to” about this country’s history of racism and blindly pushback against CRT.
But if it will make you feel any better, I do intend to adopt the term “”American Nazis” to pushback on Fox talk show host Mark Levin’s upcoming book,” American Marxism.” If he can smear the Left as American Marxists, I will call him and his fellow Trumpists, American Nazis. Two can play that game.
That’s good news for due process. I felt at the time that the decision to pretend that the non prosecution agreement had never been made was going to set a bad precedent and it has. I hope that this decision will reverse that trend. Ghislaine Maxwell was also supposed to benefit from a similar agreement that has been similarly ignored. Our justice system is supposed to be a marriage of moral rectitude and legal procedure but procedure is the more important of the two. It must be remembered that the primary aim of our justice system is to protect the innocent rather than punish the guilty.
Prosecutors have absolute immunity from tort liability. They can’t be sued for malicious prosecution. The defendant must be a private person. The only private person here is Cosby’s supposed victim.
I could be wrong, and likely am, but generally prosecutors are not immune from a civil lawsuit in such a case. Maybe in PA they are. This prosecutor appears to have violated so many canons and procedures that he should be concerned about his personal liability as well as his professional license
The proper solution is professional discipline (e.g., disbarment) rather than civil liability. Remember the prosecutor and the Duke lacrosse team? Also, Pennsylvania may have some statute addressing the issue.
How true. Who was it that said that it is better that 10 guilty persons go unpunished than to convict 1 innocent person?
WHERE WAS THE LEGAL ESTABLISHMENT??
I remember that at the time of Cosby’s conviction, certain press accounts noted the prior settlement. It amazes me that the Pennsylvania Bar, among others, didn’t loudly complain of this injustice.
And while we’re on the topic of false prosecutions and Philadelphia and the Philadelphia suburb where Bill Cosby resides, here’s another interesting story of false prosecution and damages involving former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, when he was a corrupt District Attorney, and the Philadelphia Mob:
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Neil Ferber, wrongly jailed in ’84” by Sally A. Downey, December 23, 2008
Neil Ferber, 63, who spent 14 months on death row in a mob-related murder he did not commit, died of a heart attack Saturday at his home in Northeast Philadelphia.
In 1981, Mr. Ferber was arrested in the murder of the mobster and cocaine trafficker Chelsais “Steve” Bouras and his dinner guest, Jeanette Curro. They were shot by two men while dining at the Meletis Restaurant in South Philadelphia.
Police initially suspected Mr. Ferber, a self-described con man who was friendly with a member of the so-called Greek mob, which Bouras led. They believed the killer had been hired in a battle for power among the mob’s leaders. Mr. Ferber was arrested after a witness identified him from a composite sketch.
Mr. Ferber was convicted principally on the testimony of Gerald Jordan, a former cellmate at the Philadelphia Detention Center. Jordan said that Mr. Ferber told him he had been hired to kill Bouras.
When he was sentenced to death for the two killings in October 1984, Mr. Ferber told Judge Robert A. Latrone, “The only thing I’ll say is that I’m innocent.”
Mr. Ferber’s family hired attorney Dennis J. Cogan to handle post-trial motions. Cogan said he believed Mr. Ferber was innocent but “had no idea” it would take years to prove. A break came, he said, when he got a call from Lt. Francis P. Friel, head of the Organized Crime Task Force in Philadelphia. Friel’s mob informants had told him that the wrong man had been arrested in the Bouras case, and Friel began seeking evidence.
He discovered that police had given a polygraph test to Jordan, the jailhouse informant. Jordan failed the test but police never passed on the information to the District Attorney’s Office. A new polygraph test was ordered by District Attorney Edward G. Rendell at Friel’s urging, and Jordan again failed.
Cogan discovered other problems with the police investigation. According to findings made known at a later civil trial, a Police Department sketch artist and another officer conspired to frame Mr. Ferber by using a police mug shot of him to develop the sketch identified by the witness. The two officers denied wrongdoing.
On his last day as a district attorney, Rendell requested a new trial for Mr. Ferber. The same day, Latrone overturned the conviction. Mr. Ferber was freed the next day.
In 1996 the city agreed to pay $1.9 million to close the civil suit filed by Mr. Ferber. A jury had awarded $4.5 million for what Judge John W. Herron called Mr. Ferber’s “Kafkaesque nightmare.” The award was later overturned because of technical changes in the state’s liability laws.
No one was ever charged in the case, but authorities came to believe that Bouras’ killing was ordered by mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, and set up by mobster Raymond “Long John” Martorano, because Bouras controlled a multimillion-dollar methamphetamine distribution ring that the Scarfo organization wanted to take over.
Mr. Ferber contended that he had suffered bleeding ulcers and a nervous breakdown because of his unjust imprisonment. “It will leave a scar on me for life,” he told a reporter when he was released from jail in 1986. “It’s inhumane. It’s impossible to help yourself. The noise – they’re screaming back and forth. My nerves are shot. It just feels great to be able to take a hot bath, shave when you want, and light your own cigarettes again.” After his release, Mr. Ferber’s case was aired on CBS’s
Mr. Ferber grew up in Northeast Philadelphia. After graduating from Northeast High School, he went to work for his father, Martin, who owned a furniture store in North Philadelphia. He eventually took over the store and relocated to Kensington. He was still operating the business when he was arrested.
After his release, he ran a heart monitoring business for several years.
Five years ago, Mr. Ferber moved from Bensalem back to his family’s home in Northeast Philadelphia to care for his mother, Blanche. She died in July.
“He felt bad about what he put her through,” said his brother, Jay. She had to go through the trauma of visiting her son in chains at Graterford Prison, his brother said, and “Neil never got it out of his mind how she had to beg for his life at his sentencing.”
Mr. Ferber was a meticulous dresser and enjoyed watching old movies and documentaries. He walked five or six miles a day. “He said it cleared his mind,” his brother said.
In addition to his brother, Mr. Ferber is survived by a son, Ronald Feiner; a sister, Shirley Zwanetz; two grandchildren; and his former wives, Kathy Shore and Annette Ferber.
A graveside service was yesterday at Mount Sharon Cemetery, Springfield, Delaware County.
The prosecutors and judge will almost certainly escape personal responsibility (which they will deny in frequent public statements).
The irony is that while the prosecutors and judge will be embarrassed by Cosby being released; they will suffer little embarrassment for having violated their oaths and damaged the justice system.
Cosby had the money to fight; most Americans similarly charged, would have been railroaded, with their attorneys regretfully waving goodbye.
Letitia James doesn’t even hide her evil motives. Prosecution needs reform badly in this country. Some accountability, please!!!
Letitia James would say the same exact thing to you.
That, Bug, is something we can both agree on.
“Bill Cosby is the ultimate example that you do not have to be entirely innocent to be wrongly convicted.”
That is an irresponsible statement. Mr. Cosby had sex with the women. That does not mean he did anything wrong. The Court discharged him not only because of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, but, also to prevent a 4th rigged trial against him.
There is no credible evidence that Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything.
He admits giving the women alcohol and quaaludes. 57 women in addition to the one he was convicted of assaulting came forward publicly, most of them saying they were drugged without their knowledge, some with. He gave out prescription drugs, he is a Dr. but not a medical doctor. While he was wrongfully convicted, he damn sure wasn’t innocent.
Even though he is a swine, Cosby (and unfortunately, the dozens of women that he raped, abused, and traumatized) are not as important as the integrity of the justice system.
You are absolutely right about Cosby’s guilt, but many Americans already don’t trust the justice system – and this confirms why.
This is another example of government doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Unfortunately, this wrong thing was NOT DONE for the right reasons. The D.A. (Steele), who decided to pursue the case had campaigned on the Cosby situation and decided to renege on the promise of non-prosecution. This WRONG THING was done for purely political reasons.
Hey, Hey, Hey! It’s enigma!
Enigma – 57! I knew it was a lot, but not that there were so many. That’s so heartbreaking. It sounds like there was prosecutorial misconduct. The statute of limitations is over. Women who did not file charges years ago have already passed the statute of limitations, and more recent women who felt no need to come forward since there was a conviction have had the statute now pass for them, as well.
What a disaster.
Enigma, everything you said was spot on.
John Davis really? There is no credible evidence? Did you forget about the sworn testimony and affidavits from the civil suits?
Just think of all the material he has for a new, family comedy!
“The men was sent to death row.”
Was they? Need some AI in your spell check.
Cosby is old. What would he do with the money? The civil case would rattle him. He needs to sit back and enjoy the last few years of his life.
Good point. He’s old, and the stress of two years in prison undoubtedly took a toll on him. Although his criminal defense likely cost him a million bucks, he’s rich. While he may be tempted to get revenge by suing for wrongful conviction, unless he can get a quick settlement it wouldn’t be worth it, as it would take up what’s left of his life. He’d be better off enjoying his few remaining years and asking his tax attorneys to look for a way to deduct his legal expenses. He’s never going to restore his trashed reputation so he should just quietly fade away. Plus Calif may be planning to prosecute him and if he goes through that again he’ll probably die of a stroke in the process. His arrogance and immorality turned his “golden years” into a nightmare.
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