Whether or not you believe that Bill Cosby was doomed to be convicted of aggravated indecent assault last week in Pennsylvania, one thing is certain. The legal battle over the evidence presented to the jury is not over. According to several media reports, Cosby’s legal team is likely to file an appeal.
We highlighted in a prior post that the tipping point in Cosby’s second criminal would be the effect of the additional witnesses that would be allowed to testify as to Cosby’s similar indiscretions with women under similar circumstances.
Evidence rules allow some information regarding a defendant’s “prior bad acts” to be heard and considered by the jury very limited circumstances.
This is because the accused is entitled to judgment on the facts surrounding the charge for which he (or she) is being tried. If the accused is tried (and subsequently convicted) on their propensity to commit a crime, the jury is likely to ignore the possibility that the accused did not commit the crime he or she is being charged for.
It is likely that Cosby’s defense team will make this a central theme of their appeal, especially given that the ruling allowing the additional evidence was made in the wake of the #MeToo movement after industry titans such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were toppled over similar accusations.
It remains to be seen whether an appellate court will find that the trial judge acted within the spirit of the rule in allowing five witnesses given that Cosby had been accused by more than 50 women of inappropriate conduct. Regardless, the story exemplifies the need for an experienced criminal defense attorney in a sex crimes case.