The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction, and the 83-year-old comedian/Jello pudding salesman/serial rapist will be released from prison with no chance of his having to go back, according to the ruling vacating his conviction issued yesterday.
Is that justice? Well, it’s a kind of justice, but only for Cosby. Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned his conviction because a previous prosecutor had granted him immunity from prosecution in order to force the Coz to admit to some of his criminal sexual activity. Cosby could not use the Fifth Amendment nor lie without risking perjury charges, so he made several incriminating statements on the record. These should not have been used to convict him later, but a different prosecutor determined that his office was not bound by the previous deal. But it was. Because Cosby’s statements were improperly used against him, the conviction was based on inadmissible evidence. This new ruling bars any retrial in the case.
Much as Bill Cosby deserves to rot in prison, upon reading the opinion, I see no way to criticize the decision. Even bad people have to be prosecuted and convicted the right way, and Cosby, who is about as bad as one can get, was not. I’m sure there is some reason why Cosby’s lawyer wasn’t able to block the use of his client’s damning but unusable testimony before Cosby had to spend time in jail, but so far, I can’t find it.
If a sociopathic predator like Bill Cosby can be freed on the basis of an unfair trial—and he can and should be—so can and should a brutal cop like Derk Chauvin, whose trial was also unfair, though for very different reasons. We shall see how far the integrity of the justice system goes.
Nobody is going to riot over Bill Cosby going free. That, I fear, might be the critical difference.