Bill Cosby ‘never had a fair shot’ in a trial that ‘laid waste to the presumption of innocence,’ by allowing five prior ‘victims’ to testify and using the actor’s own words – given on the promise of immunity – against him.
These were the opening claims in the disgraced actor’s appeal against his 2018 sexual assault conviction, heard this morning in Pennsylvania State’s Supreme Court.
Speaking on Cosby’s behalf, attorney Jennifer Bonjean claimed that Montgomery County District Attorney’s office made a mockery of justice by ‘seeking to indict Mr Cosby’s entire life’ and telling the jury, ‘that he could not be believed’ because ‘he had done this so many times before.’
According to Bonjean the jury were ‘bombarded’ by irrelevant testimony that amounted to five ‘mini trials’ and admissions made by Cosby in two-decade old depositions given as part of a civil suit brought by accuser Andrea Constand and settled in 2006.
She said, ‘Mr Cosby suffered unquantifiable prejudice where the prior bad acts evidence overwhelmed the trial and converted it from a trial of a specific offence to a trial of his character.’
Bill Cosby has requested not to have a radio or any audio to listen to proceedings Tuesday as lawyers argue for his sexual assault conviction to be overturned
DailyMail.com can reveal that the disgraced actor only wants to get the update and analysis of the proceedings directly from his lawyer Andrew Wyatt. ‘He likes to call me so that I can give him a play-by-play of how things went and my overall analysis,’ Wyatt told DailyMail.com
Cosby has told prison authorities that he does not want to listen today as lawyers argue for his 2018 sexual assault conviction to be overturned, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Cosby was granted leave to appeal his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, 47, in June, when Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court sensationally overturned an earlier denial by the state’s Superior Court.
A recent bid to have the 83-year-old released on house arrest due to fear of Covid running rampant through the prison system ended in failure. Cosby is pictured in a mugshot from September
Today’s proceedings are being conducted virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions and broadcast by the court on a livestream.
But, though they will be the subject of intense public interest, DailyMail.com has learned that the actor once beloved as ‘America’s Dad,’ will not be listening in.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Cosby’s spokesman and right-hand man, Andrew Wyatt revealed, ‘Mr Cosby will not be present, nor will he be monitoring what happens because he’s 100 per cent blind and the institution is in strict lockdown.
‘In actuality Mr Cosby prefers not to have access to listen to those court proceedings. He likes to call me so that I can give him a play-by-play of how things went and my overall analysis.’
He added, ‘Since he has been incarcerated, Mr Cosby has asked the prison not to provide him with a radio and/or television.’
The Supreme Court has agreed to review two aspects of the disgraced actor’s case. The seven judges will review Montgomery County Judge Steven T O’Neill’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify about long-ago encounters that never resulted in charges.
And they will review his decision to allow the jury to hear damning testimony from two-decade old depositions in which Cosby admitted to giving women Quaaludes to facilitate sex.
Both of these issues have been at the heart of the prosecution’s case since Cosby was charged on three felony sexual assault counts in 2015.
The admission of the ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses – Janice Baker-Kinney, Janice Dickinson, Chelan Lasha, Lise-Lotte Lublin and Heidi Thomas – all of whom testified to alleged assaults dating back thirty years was crucial to the prosecution’s case.
Testimony relating to prior alleged crimes is only allowed in Pennsylvania if it demonstrates a signature pattern of abuse, but its inclusion is rare.
And Judge O’Neill has never explained why he allowed five women to testify in the second Cosby trial after allowing only one to do so at his first trial in 2017, though his change of heart came after a year in which the #MeToo movement exploded in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
In June, Cosby was granted leave to appeal his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, 47
Janice Dickinson (left) and Chelan Lasha (right) were previously brought in as ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses
The seven Supreme Court Justices grilled Bonjean for close to thirty minutes during which she held firm on the appeal’s contentions that Cosby’s deposition should never have been admitted as it was given under an agreement of immunity from prosecution and that none of the five ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses had any relevance to Constand’s case.
The main difference, according to Bonjean, was that unlike the other women Constand had, ‘an 18-month relationship built on friendship.’
But when it came to the Commonwealth’s rebuttal of Cosby’s points of appeal attorney Adrianne Jappe did not get through her opening comments before the judges began interrupting and interrogating her on the relevance of the five prior bad acts witnesses.
Justice Dougherty pointed out that one of the women – Lise-Lotte Lublin – had ‘no actual recollection of sexual contact’ but merely of losing consciousness.
Justice Donohoe was blunter, demanding, ‘What are you describing? A signature crime? The assault that took place here took place in the defendant’s home after an 18-month relationship with Miss Constand, after meeting her mother, after going on trips with her. If you’re talking about a signature, you’d better incorporate all of the facts that we have in this case that’s on trial. Because frankly I don’t see it.’
And Justice Baer stated that there was a compelling argument, ‘that this defendant did not get a fair trial,’ thanks to the inclusion of so many prior bad acts witnesses that turned the trial into a case that was as much about whether he had committed the other ‘crimes’ as a question of his guilt or innocence in relation to Constand.
Similarly, the case against Cosby leaned heavily on the former actor and comedian’s own words in depositions given in 2005 and 2006 and quoted at length in court.
In these Cosby admitted to giving women Quaaludes when he wanted sex, claiming that it was as habitual and harmless as offering a glass of wine. He also admitted that he never took any himself as he wished to remain lucid.
Cosby’s legal team led by Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau and co-counsel Kathleen Bliss fought unsuccessfully to have the prior bad acts witnesses blocked and to have Cosby’s depositions struck from the record.
The seven judges will review Montgomery County Judge Steven T O’Neill’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify about long-ago encounters that never resulted in charges
Cosby maintains that the depositions, which were given as part of a civil suit brought by Constand, were done on condition of an agreement made by Montgomery County’s then District Attorney, Bruce Castor that he would never face criminal charges.
Today it fell to attorney Robert Falin to argue that the deposition was fairly introduced into the trial.
But, like his colleague Jappe, Falin barely made it through his opening comments before the judges were on him.
Justice Wecht asked what message it sent out if they ‘validated’ his argument, ‘that your office’s word is not their bond?’
He pointed out, ‘A sitting DA (Bruce Castor) made a decision memorialized in a press statement. You don’t like that as a successor’s office, but why does that not bind you?’
Speaking earlier today, Cosby’s spokesman Wyatt told DailyMail.com that their ‘overall objective,’ is to, ‘persuade the justices that Mr Cosby had ‘immunity’ and he should never have been brought to trial.’
He explained, ‘Mr Cosby sat for a civil deposition for four days and he never invoked the Fifth Amendment. If Mr Cosby had been told and/or the deposition given in knowledge that the promise made by Montgomery County District Attorney was not binding he would never have relied on the agreement made by MCDA to his detriment.’
Wyatt added that if the Supreme Court does not vacate Mr Cosby’s conviction then they are asking that they rule that the prior bad acts witnesses ‘should never have been associated with the criminal case.’
He said that such a ruling would, ‘warrant Mr Cosby to get a new trial.’
Cosby has been housed in Pennsylvania’s new maximum security state prison known as SCI Phoenix for two years now. He was sentenced to serve three to ten years per count and could be eligible for parole next year if he enrolls in the prison’s sexual offender rehabilitation program.
Cosby’s legal team led by Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau (left) and co-counsel Kathleen Bliss (right) fought unsuccessfully to have the prior bad acts witnesses blocked and to have Cosby’s depositions struck from the record
Cosby enters his appeal with a new legal team headed by Brian Perry and Kristen Weisenberger from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania law firm Perry, Shore and Weisenberger
But, according to Wyatt, Cosby would rather remain in prison than admit guilt to the sexual encounter with Constant that he maintains was consensual.
A recent bid to have the 83-year-old released on house arrest due to fear of Covid running rampant through the prison system ended in failure.
In April Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf revealed a plan to ‘temporarily relieve’ at-risk inmates which sparked speculation that Cosby could be freed. But any hope was dashed as the Department of Corrections stated sex-offenders would not be considered.
Last year, DailyMail.com revealed that Cosby has not seen his wife of 56 years, Camille, 76, since he entered prison close to two years ago.
But she has been a fierce advocate for her husband and harsh critic of all of his many accusers slamming them as racially motivated liars and comparing her husband’s case to that of Emmet Till.
Her sentiments were echoed by Cosby spokesman Wyatt as he welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision in June, saying, ‘As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him – it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America.’
The court could rule today but a decision is more likely to take several months.