Bill Cosby Released from Prison
June 30, 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled to overturn former comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault charges and release him from prison. Here’s what you should know.
Downfall of America’s Dad
Known for his starring role on the Cosby Show, Bill Cosby warmed hearts and made families laugh and cry as they watched America’s Dad. But Cosby’s reputation came to a screeching halt when news broke of alleged sexual assaults spanning across the U.S. and Canada from 1965 to 2008.
As early as 2004, there were rumors that Cosby was a less than ideal figure. From Entertainment Tonight interviews to a joke by comedian Hannibal Buress, Cosby’s squeaky-clean reputation was taking hit after hit, but few of them stuck. That is until 2015.
The “Me Too” movement began to gain popularity in 2014-2015, and as more women came forward, Hollywood giants like Harvey Weinstein and TV personalities like the Today show’s Matt Lauer fell in the years that followed. The same was true for Cosby.
A slow, agonizing trial process commenced in December of 2015. Cosby’s supporters dwindled down to his legal team and family as more allegations mounted against him. The public was suddenly confronted with the truth that this American legend was not only responsible for many assaults, but some of these cases had gone to court before.
By the time the dust settled on the Cosby case, the jury found him guilty of three felony counts of assault. Then, in September 2018, a Pennsylvania judge sentenced Cosby to three to ten years in state prison and deemed him a sexually violent predator.
So, if Cosby is a violent predator, then why did a Pennsylvania judge recently overturn his conviction?
“An Affront to Fundamental Fairness”
The crux of the Cosby case has everything to do with the conviction process. According to Cosby’s legal team, a previous (informal) agreement with the district attorney was not upheld by his predecessor.
Originally, the DA who oversaw Cosby’s case made a deal to not charge Cosby for assault if he went on the stand and gave an incriminating testimony. Current District Attorney Kevin Steele not only decided to arrest Cosby, but convict and sentence him for his crimes, thus going against his predecessor’s deal.
The pushback against his sentencing comes from an idea of “fundamental fairness,” which the court owes to the people as part of its dedication to justice. By choosing to go against the original plea deal, Steele violated fairness and decency.
While it’s not a law per se, the idea of fairness in legal practice often goes without saying. It’s a precedent set for all those who seek to practice the law. Without fairness and decency, judges, district attorneys, lawyers and justices can practice law to their own ends.
District Attorney Steele said in a statement to journalists that Cosby was freed “on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime.”
Is Your Case Fair?
Because “fairness” isn’t strictly a protected privilege under the Constitution or other legislation, attorneys use certain amendments and other fine-line stances to prove whether or not a judge acts with fairness.
Often, fairness and justice go in hand anyways, but if a DA or judge acts outside of the law or disregards plea deals made in good faith, their verdict can be called into question. If you believe your case was legally unfair, talk to an attorney.
The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. has defended countless clients in criminal cases. From start to finish, my team will work tirelessly to ensure that you are treated fairly and justly. Contact me today to learn more.