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BILL COSBY CASE - Court annuls conviction because prosecutor breached agreement

Atualizado: Jul 9

The Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned actor and comedian Bill Cosby's conviction for sexual abuse because prosecutor Kevin Steele breached an agreement made by his predecessor Bruce Castor not to prosecute the defendant criminally if he made a guilty plea to the victim receive financial compensation in a civil action.

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Bill Cosby entered into a non-prosecution agreement that was breached According to the 2005 decision, Bruce Castor ruled that a criminal action against Bill Cosby, based on a charge of sexual abuse, without penetration, would be unfeasible because there was no corroborating forensic evidence and because witness evidence of other alleged victims was old ( some from the 1970s) and would probably not be admissible on trial. Since there was not enough support to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt, the prosecutor concluded that he could only win the case if Cosby pleaded guilty. But, obviously, the defendant was protected by the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the defendant the right not to incriminate himself in a criminal action. Bruce Castor then came to the conclusion that the best solution for the victim, given the circumstances, would be to recommend her to file a civil suit for damages. For that, it would be necessary to obtain a confession from Cosby. A civil action must be based on a conviction resulting from a criminal action or a defendant's confession. But in a civil suit, the prosecutor could force the defendant to testify, without the Fifth Amendment privilege—that of not incriminating himself—and under penalty of perjury. In any case, Cosby agreed with the prosecutor's proposal, given the assurance that he would not be criminally prosecuted. He made four sworn statements, in which he made incriminating statements.

Excerpts from the Court's Understanding

"We have decided that when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise not to prosecute and when the defendant relies on that guarantee, to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify, the fundamental principle of fairness that underpins due process of law in our criminal justice system demands may the promise be fulfilled."

"Santobello stated that where a confession is based, to any significant degree, on a promise or agreement with the prosecutor, in a way that can be considered part of the inducement or consideration, that promise must be kept."

"Kevin Steele, the current District Attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, was under an obligation to fulfill his predecessor Bruce Castor's promise not to denounce Cosby. This court considers Steele's violation so vast that it decides the prosecution will not can report Cosby again, based on the same charges."

"The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is applicable in the states via incorporation under the 14th Amendment, commands that no person should be compelled, in any criminal case, to testify against himself. This self-incrimination clause is not just a protection against condemnation and persecution, but a safeguard of conscience and human dignity as well as freedom of expression."

“The discretion invested in our Commonwealth prosecutors, however vast, does not mean that their exercise is free from the restrictions of due process. Defendant does this to his detriment (and, in some instances, with counsel's advice), denying the defendant the benefits of this decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in criminal prosecution, which was waived over a decade ago ."

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