Cosby Answers Prosecutors Before Supreme Court

Review of ruling could lead to sexual assault conviction being reinstated
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 29, 2021 6:35 PM CST
Updated Jan 31, 2022 7:15 PM CST
Cosby Prosecutors Take Verdict to Supreme Court
Bill Cosby, shown in 2018, spent almost three years in prison.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(Newser) Update: Bill Cosby's lawyers asked the US Supreme Court on Monday to let stand a ruling that resulted in the convicted entertainer's release from prison. Pennsylvania prosecutors want the justices to review the decision to toss out the guilty verdict, but Cosby's team argued the decision won't affect other cases and so doesn't merit more court time. "The narrowly tailored decision of the Cosby court is not at odds with any other case and is so factually unique that it fails to present any question that is likely to arise in the future with any regularity," the 19-page filing says, per the Hill. Our original story from Nov. 29 follows:

Prosecutors asked the US Supreme Court on Monday to reinstate Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction, complaining that the verdict was thrown out over a questionable agreement that the comic claimed gave him lifetime immunity. They said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Cosby's conviction created a dangerous precedent by giving a press release the legal weight of an immunity agreement, the AP reports. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele called the court's decision "an indefensible rule," predicting an onslaught of criminal appeals if it is allowed to stand.

"This decision as it stands will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The US Supreme Court can right what we believe is a grievous wrong," Steele wrote in the petition, which seeks review under the due process clause of the US Constitution. Cosby's lawyers have long argued that he relied on a promise that he would never be charged when he gave damaging testimony in an accuser's civil suit in 2006. The admissions were later used against him in two criminal trials. The only written evidence of such a promise is a 2005 press release from the then-prosecutor, Bruce Castor, who said he did not have enough evidence to arrest Cosby.

The release included an ambiguous "caution" that Castor "will reconsider this decision should the need arise." The parties have since spent years debating what that meant. Steele's bid to revive the case is a long shot. The US Supreme Court accepts fewer than 1% of the petitions it receives. A decision is not expected for several months. Castor’s successors doubt he ever made such a deal. They say Cosby had strategic reasons to give the deposition rather than invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, even if it backfired when "he slipped up" in his rambling testimony. Cosby spent nearly three years in prison before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set him free in June.

(Read more Bill Cosby stories.)

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