NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania — He’s famous and he has amassed untold wealth.
And as flawed as Bill Cosby may be, his biggest problem during his sexual assault trial that ended with a hung jury may have been the operations of the criminal justice system itself — a system that’s devoured many an African-American with decidedly less fame and fortune.
Whether anyone believes Cosby has committed the unspeakable crime in which he’d been charged, two weeks of trial — and a week of jury selection across the state in Pittsburgh — has proven again that justice and the African-American has never met.
The two have never been acquainted and, certainly as the Cosby case proved, justice and the African-American remain complete strangers.
For black America, including those who by their silence condemned the iconic comedian, the Cosby case should serve only to reaffirm the sad American truth — the deck comes fully stacked against getting a fair trial in America.
Whether guilty or innocent, and despite employing a lawyer who has very few peers that possess his ability in a courtroom, what occurred in Norristown and in Pittsburgh prior, did not amount to a fair trial.
And unless you attended the trial and saw it through African-American eyelids, there’s no real way to understand just how unfair the proceedings took place.
Mainstream media reported facts in a very different way, almost contrary to the evidence presented.
Witnesses, many whom were law enforcement officers, clearly interjected testimony not asked for by either side in a clear effort to make sure Cosby appeared guilty to jurors.
For African-Americans, the case underscored the importance of the constitutional right to remain silent. To mainstream media, Cosby’s infamous deposition from more than a decade ago that was taken over several months and his police statements, was a sort of confession.
However, a fair and full read of the documents should have been reported as a sort of window into the thoughts of an individual who sensed a set up but was powerless to do anything to stop it.
Under oath, which depositions are taken and in his further statements to police, Cosby proved consistent in his statements.
Under oath in various statements to police, his accuser repeatedly changed her story, but it seemed to matter little as that fact went mostly unreported.
Cosby’s statements to police involving his interaction with the accuser’s mother also received unfortunate and misguided editing from multiple outlets.
“Cosby says he’s a dirty old man,” many of the headlines and storylines read, purportedly quoting from the statements.
However, in court, the statement had not only been read but placed on a large screen for everyone — including reporters — to see.
“I didn’t want the mother to think that I was a dirty old man,” Cosby said in the statement, far different from the reports that he claimed to be a dirty old man.
Another major play on words came courtesy of the accuser’s mother who claimed that, in a telephone call, Cosby admitted that he’s a sick man. However, in a secretly recorded telephone call between the mother and the comedian that was played in court, no such statement was made by Cosby.
Yet, the headlines blared, “Cosby admits he’s a sick man.”
While jurors aren’t supposed to watch, read or listen to media or any outside reporting while deliberating, they can certainly be swayed by a judge — the chief referee in American Justice.
In Cosby’s case, Judge Steven O’Neill repeatedly ruled against the comedian. His decision to let in the deposition had already been viewed by many legal experts as an appealable matter, particularly as he disallowed any evidence to show that Cosby and the accuser had reached a civil settlement more than a decade ago.
O’Neill also declined to step in during jury selection as prosecutors successfully practiced jury nullification, sitting potential black jurors at the back where it was unlikely they’d be called.
Those who were called were disqualified after prosecutors ran extensive background checks and criminal histories. One of those was a former Pittsburgh police detective who had been accused of falsifying overtime records. Although the officer was cleared and later sued the department, prosecutors cited that as a reason to disqualify her.
Ultimately, two African-Americans were picked after Cosby’s attorney Brian McMonagle argued that prosecutors were guilty of selectively and intentionally nullifying black jurors.
The deposition, which ultimately was cited as the reason the case went to trial 12 years after the alleged incident, had been taken because Constand had decided to bring a civil suit against Cosby.
Jurors heard that, prior to calling police, Constand searched for a civil lawyer.
Oddly, one of the officers Constand spoke with was her brother-in-law, who suggested to call a lawyer “to protect her.”
O’Neill also denied a potential defense witness who had on several occasions shared a hotel room with Constand.
The testimony of Temple employee Margo Jackson would have revealed to the jury that Constand had previously mentioned to Jackson her ability to claim Cosby assaulted her and despite it not really happening, she could “say it happened and file charges, file a civil suit, get the money, go to school and open a business.”
When Cosby offered to pay for Constand to go to graduate school, prosecutors and media members alike claimed it sounded like a bribe, or hush money.
However, left out of the reporting and glossed over by the prosecution, was Cosby’s insistence that if he were to pay for Constand to go to graduate school, she must maintain a 3.0 grade point average — certainly an indication that this wasn’t a payoff attempt.
As jurors deliberated, media members flocked to women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and some of her clients, who were present throughout.
They chided Cosby for responding to his fans who urged him to repeat his “Fat Albert” phrase, “Hey, hey, hey,” as he left court. However, no one offered any kind of rebuke to Allred’s clients who paraded around the courthouse with buttons and some who rented a U-Haul, draped a sheet over it with anti-Cosby slogans and rode around the courthouse honking the horn.
Truly, it was tantamount to the sounds of the Klan and lynch mobs as they rode in the darkness fully loaded, intending to target an African-American under the guise of justice.