Many in the legal profession are now making their voices heard in opposition of the sexual assault conviction of comedian Bill Cosby.
While many observers, particularly those who relied on reporting by mainstream media, wrote off the trial and verdict in April as a win for the #MeToo movement, several lawyers and legal experts said Cosby was a victim of a flawed and prejudiced legal system.
John Davis, an international lawyer who lives in the south of France and writes about gender issues, called the trial a case of “sleazy backwoods justice.”
“The Cosby jury verdict is being heralded as a great milestone in justice for women accusers … but the problem is that the judge in the case rigged the trial to ensure that Cosby would be convicted,” Davis said. “Hundreds of times during the Jim Crow era, judges rigged trials in rape cases so that they could be hanged even though they were innocent.”
Cosby, 81, will be sentenced in September. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the three guilty verdicts.
Davis cited the Scottsboro Boys trial of the 1930s, in which nine young Black boys were convicted of raping two White women and sentenced to death. The judges rigged those trials to keep out evidence that the boys were innocent and allowed evidence that suggested they were guilty even after knowing the evidence was based on fraudulent accounts, Davis said.
Eighty years later, an Alabama court pardoned the Scottsboro Boys.
Others said Black America is missing the bigger picture with Cosby.
“The trial was a terrific example of the travesty of justice in the American courtroom for sex assault trials,” said Paul Saputo of the Dallas-based Saputo Law Firm. “As has happened throughout American history, popular culture weighs heavily on criminal justice and I obviously don’t know whether or not Cosby is guilty of what he’s accused of, but when the justice system sacrifices fairness in procedure to tilt the scales, we have a major problem.”
Not only did Cosby’s accuser receive a large amount of support from the government and media, Cosby became a victim of the mass media and popular culture who won’t give him a second thought, Saputo said.
Marcellus Lattimore, a New York-based defense lawyer, said that before Cosby is sent to prison, everyone — particularly African Americans — should pause to examine his case.
“We need to take a step back because I know a lot of us are angry with Bill Cosby because some of us believed he aired our dirty laundry with his ‘pound cake’ speech and some of us believe that he even looked down or talked down to us,” Lattimore said. “Then we have people like D.L. Hughley speaking against Cosby, but it was the same as back in slavery, same as back in Jim Crow and the civil rights [movement]. But … Cosby has done much for Blacks, giving $200 million to HBCUs and when you want to make a difference, you look at education and that’s what he did — he didn’t give it to White schools or White people.”
Lawrence Black, a lawyer in Atlanta, said it was obvious that Cosby was “railroaded” by an “overanxious DA and prejudiced judge,” but African Americans should pay close attention to mainstream media.
“The shenanigans that went on with that case is beyond comprehension when you take into account that these reporters and their editors conspired with their competition to write essentially what was false and Black people bought it and Cosby is paying for that,” Black said. “It’s hard to read White-owned newspapers now, especially after the Cosby case. It’s just as hard to take CNN and MSNBC serious, too, because they let it happen and when you stand by and do nothing, it’s almost as if you are an accessory to the crime so I hold that any reporter worth the ink used in newspapers or the airtime used on television or radio, should tell the real story of what happened to a Black American icon.”
CNN legal analyst and longtime lawyer Joey Jackson called the trial “a miscarriage of justice” and said it never should have been brought.
Renowned mathematician and social commentator Jonathan David Farley said the so-called “smoking gun” deposition also wasn’t as explosive as mainstream media had readers and viewers believe.
“The alleged deposition transcript does not show that Cosby drugged women without their knowledge in order to incapacitate them so that he could rape them,” Farley said. “But a juror admitted that he voted to convict Cosby based on this false belief.”
Meanwhile, Davis also cited the $3.4 million settlement Cosby reached in 2006 with accuser Andrea Constand as another reason the case against Cosby was fixed.
“If the prosecutor hadn’t promised they would not prosecute [after the civil settlement], Cosby could, and would, have exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent,” Davis said. “Seven years later, a new trophy-hunting prosecutor decided to violate the promises of the prosecutor’s office and filed charges against Cosby.”
Former District Attorney Bruce Castor said he did indeed promise Cosby that if the comedian sat for a deposition in the Constand civil case, that testimony could never be used against him.
However, current DA Kevin Steele reneged on that promise after media including the Associated Press began pressuring Steele in 2014 as Steele ran for Castor’s seat.
“The judge decided to let a deposition of Cosby’s testimony that he had sex with women, and also provided them with quaaludes during their relationship, into evidence in the criminal case,” Davis said. “This is tantamount to the judge insuring a conviction by sneaking evidence in the back door that Cosby is a bad man who has sex outside of marriage and who does drugs, and, provides drugs to women who are having a relationship with him. Cosby never said in his deposition that he gave them drugs so that they would be unconscious so that he could rape them. That is a pure lie and fraud committed by the mass media.”
Also, Judge Steven T. O’Neill allowed five women to testify that Cosby is a rapist.
“The sole purpose of allowing this testimony was to inflame the jury to believe that Mr. Cosby is a rapist because six women said so,” Davis said. “This evidence was excluded in the first trial. The judge violated the rule of the case doctrine to let it in during the second trial simply to ensure that Cosby would be convicted.
“In fact, the testimony is not admissible to prove a common scheme or plan [as the judge said],” Davis continued. “To be admissible to prove a common scheme or plan, the testimony is only narrowly admissible to prove multiple acts in the exact same crime which is being charged not five other alleged crimes which have never been proven.”
Davis said another reason he’s concluded that the fix was in was that Cosby had a witness who would testify that at least one of the other women was lying when they accused him of raping them at the trial. The evidence was admissible because the woman who could prove the testifying accuser was lying was nowhere to be found.
However, O’Neill didn’t allow Cosby to present a sworn, written statement of the woman who couldn’t be found, so that there was no way for Cosby to prove that the six women who testified against him were lying, Davis said.
Cosby attorney Tom Mesereau, who successfully defended television star Robert Blake on murder charges and pop star Michael Jackson in his child molestation trial, said the Cosby case was certainly politically motivated.
“It was a travesty of justice, the likes of which I have never seen in my whole career,” Mesereau said.