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PA Highest Court Overturns Bill Cosby’s Conviction, Orders Cosby Released From Prison

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Pennsylvania’s highest court just overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case. He will be released from prison.

The court wrote: “The consequences of D.A. Castor’s actions include the civil matter, and no exclusion of deposition testimony can restore Cosby’s injuries in that regard. It was not only the deposition testimony that harmed Cosby. As a practical matter, the moment that Cosby was charged criminally, he was harmed: all that he had forfeited earlier, and the consequences of that forfeiture in the civil case, were for naught.

“This was, as the CDO itself characterizes it, an unconstitutional “coercive bait-and-switch.” It is the true and full breadth of the consequences of the due process violation that separates this case from the cases relied upon by the CDO, including Stipetich. Each of those prosecutions involved defective or unenforceable promises that resulted in suppression remedies.

“Critically, none of them featured the additional harm inflicted in this case. In none of those cases did the effects of the constitutional violation extend to matters beyond the criminal trial, as was the circumstance here. Accordingly, none of those cases support, much less compel, the limited remedy that the CDO proffers.

“The impact of the due process violation here is vast. The remedy must match that impact. Starting with D.A. Castor’s inducement, Cosby gave up a fundamental constitutional right, was compelled to participate in a civil case after losing that right, testified against his own interests, weakened his position there and ultimately settled the case for a large sum of money, was tried twice in criminal court, was convicted, and has served several years in prison.

“All of this started with D.A. Castor’s compulsion of Cosby’s reliance upon a public proclamation that Cosby would not be prosecuted. The CDO’s remedy for all of this would include subjecting Cosby to a third criminal trial.

“That is no remedy at all. Rather, it is an approach that would place Cosby nowhere near where he was before the due process violation took root.

There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante. He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred.

We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here, indeed compelled. The CDO would shun this remedy because (at least in part) it might thwart the “public interest in having the guilty brought to book.”