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April 29, 2018

"Why Bill Cosby may not spend any time in prison"

The title of this post is the title of this lengthy new CNN article that provides a review of some of what we can now expect in the case of Pennsylvania v. William Henry Cosby, Jr. in the wake of his convictions this past week.  Here are excerpts:

Based on his conviction this week on three assault charges, comedian and TV star Bill Cosby could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.  But legal experts said the 80-year-old certainly will spend less time than that behind bars, and there's a very real possibility that he may not ever be incarcerated.

Why?  Well, it's mostly to do with his defense team's plan to appeal the guilty verdict -- likely on the grounds that the decision to allow five other accusers to testify in the trial unfairly prejudiced the jury.

Cosby's attorney, Tom Mesereau, will probably ask the court that his client be given home confinement during the appeal, which could take months or even years, CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said.  "I think he'll ask the court and do whatever he needs to, to have his client remain out at liberty until these issues are decided, whether it was appropriate to allow all those accusers to testify, and how prejudicial and unfair would that be," Jackson said.

The decision on Cosby's bail is up to Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill, who oversaw the case.  His prior rulings suggest he may allow Cosby to remain on home confinement.  On Thursday, O'Neill dismissed the prosecution's plea to revoke Cosby's $1 million bail and remand him to jail. "I'm not simply going to lock him up right now," the judge said, citing his age and his track record of appearing at every hearing for two and a half years....

For now, Cosby is not permitted to leave his Pennsylvania home. If he does leave the state for another home, it would have to be arranged ahead of time and he would have to wear a GPS monitoring device, the judge ruled.  If O'Neill does allow Cosby to remain free during appeals, and the legal action lasts for years, then there's a question of whether the comedian's age and health will make that sentence moot....

Though Cosby faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele indicated he would not press for that sentence.  "He was convicted of three counts of (indecent assault), so technically that would be up to 30 years.  However, we have to look at a merger of those counts to determine what the final maximum will be," Steele said.

Legal analyst Areva Martin said the judge's rulings so far suggest he will give Cosby a much reduced sentence. "I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing," she said.

Judges can take any number of mitigating factors into consideration when issuing a sentence, she explained. "He will be able to take into consideration Cosby's age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he's done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction -- all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him."

A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Some women who say they were also assaulted by Cosby believe he should spend time in prison. "I believe that it's essential he spend time in jail and it wouldn't break my heart to see him spend the rest of his life in jail," Janice Baker-Kinney said Friday.

But ultimately, the length of his sentence would not change his guilty conviction. "Whether he ends up serving time in jail or if he dies during the appeals process, that doesn't remove the fact that he has been convicted," [Professor Michelle] Dempsey said. "That's definitely an important moment in history."

Prior related post:

April 29, 2018 at 03:36 PM | Permalink


"If O'Neill does allow Cosby to remain free during appeals, and the legal action lasts for years, then there's a question of whether the comedian's age and health will make that sentence moot...."

And certainly everyone knew this before hand so...umm...yeah...gold diggers...is the only plausible explanation. That and a DA who wanted to strut that he took down "the Coz".

Posted by: Rascapllion | Apr 29, 2018 5:20:36 PM

"But ultimately, the length of his sentence would not change his guilty conviction. "Whether he ends up serving time in jail or if he dies during the appeals process, that doesn't remove the fact that he has been convicted,"

[choking] Really, a CRIMINAL LAW professor said that.... as Doug B. would say, wowzers!


Whatever the quality of their basketball team this doesn't speak well of Villanova's legal program.

Posted by: Rascapllion | Apr 29, 2018 5:30:41 PM

I agree, age, health Nd his appeal will end before the appeals do.

Hard for me to imGine grown women sitting back for decades. Most I know are busy body chatty types. Then they gangup quickly. Oh well, no matter 14 yrs later it seems important, maybe cayse his estzte is firth coming.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Apr 29, 2018 5:31:18 PM

Full comment:

But ultimately, the length of his sentence would not change his guilty conviction. "Whether he ends up serving time in jail or if he dies during the appeals process, that doesn't remove the fact that he has been convicted," [Professor Michelle] Dempsey said. "That's definitely an important moment in history."

Moment. If asked, he very well probably would note that his death ala the Enron guy would matter for him personally.

Efforts were made my women to get justice for years. The fact that elderly Nazis might die before serving time or only getting a short time there doesn't erase the importance of trying to get a conviction. And, it is important for the future too.

I noted separately that sex offenders get an extra bit of respect on this blog.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 29, 2018 5:47:06 PM


Vapidity is no defense to imbecility. Every moment is a historical moment because it won't be repeated again, that truism is trivial and vapid. The journalistic interest in her remarks stems entirely from the fact that she is a law professor speaking to the legal aspects of the case. That's the value added. If she is wrong on the law then far from helping the public understand the import of the conviction she misleads and misguides.

Her legal error feeds the narrative that the women are just out to get him viz. because they don't care about trivialities like getting the law correct so long as they took a man down. So I don't think sex offenders get special attention on this blog; what gets special attention on this blog is the law. Anyone who respects the law pays attention to sex offenders because it is the place where in this historical moment the rule of law is most under threat and has been most weakened.

Posted by: Rascapllion | Apr 29, 2018 7:26:41 PM

@ Rascapilion

Sex offenders...so we're lumping them all together? The rule of law is many times egregiously harsh on some minor sex crimes, and soft on other more aggravated sex crimes, such as what Cosby committed. Commentators, stop lumping them all together. It makes your comments appear unprofessional and very biased.

Posted by: tommyc | Apr 29, 2018 11:09:00 PM

"Her legal error"

Not shown. It is an inference by you that she was talking about it not mattering for him personally if he dies before the appeals process if over. The "vapid" seems to be repeatedly necessary to recall around here from what I can tell since basic points seem to be up to debate. And, my statement holds. Criminal conviction matters, including for the future. The fact someone is convicted matters even if they personally don't serve time and die before the sentence is final. This includes in other legal cases.

There are various people who are under threat by the law now, if that is your concern, not just sex offenders.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 30, 2018 9:36:16 AM

At sentencing the judge should let each of the 50 or so of Cosby's victims face and address him--as the judge did in the Nasar case. After that a ten-year sentence is entirely appropriate regardless of his age. He should be committed to prison immediately. No bail on appeal. His issue, while not frivolous, is bound to lose. Nothing wrong in admitting prior similar acts. Happens all the time. judge gave him a break by admitting only five, instead of all 40. Just deserts for this serial predator.

Posted by: Peter from Vermont | Apr 30, 2018 11:15:07 AM

If he remains free pending appeal it will be one more example of money/fame buying privilege. My clients don't get that luxury. If we are taking bets on the sentence, I'm guessing 5 years to serve.

Posted by: defendergirl | Apr 30, 2018 2:52:33 PM

Well, it is a shame that he was convicted at all. Because of the "SEX offender" witch hunt, I cannot support any criminal regime in the U.S. convicting anyone of anything. F them and everyone that supports them. I personally never get on a jury often enough. They could never convict anyone with me on the jury.

I haven't paid any attention to Cosby's case. Did they convict him without any actual proof? Without knowing anything, I would bet $1 million on that.

I would say that I hope he skips bond and disappears forever except that would make bond more difficult for other people in his situation. So other than that, it would be great if he did that. In lieu of that, I hope his appeals go on until he dies. Or if he is imprisoned that his medical expenses and legal actions cost this criminal regime millions for years.

It is what the SEX Offender Registries deserve. Hate, no peace.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | May 1, 2018 1:13:57 PM

According to statements from the jury, they convicted Cosby with his own words in a civil deposition. (Note to civil attorneys, if in talking over with your client, he admits to conduct that could be criminal, settle quickly. Do not allow the other side to take a deposition.) I am waiting (not) for my $1 million from terrorist.

While every state has its own rules, I am unaware of any constitutional right to bond on appeal. (In fact, the right to an appeal was very limited at the time of the Eighth Amendment.) In my state, the norm is that -- upon a finding of guilty by the jury -- the bond is increased as the presumption of innocence is gone and the presumed flight risk increases. High bonds -- either awaiting sentence or on appeal -- means that only the wealthier tend to be free on appeal as they tend to be the only ones who can both afford to post bond and to pay for private counsel to handle the appeal.

Posted by: tmm | May 1, 2018 4:45:32 PM

tmm | May 1, 2018 4:45:32 PM:

Really?! You just believe the jurors? I'm not that gullible. I would read exactly what the jurors read and also understand all of the circumstances around when, how, etc. it was said and written in the first place. If everything panned out as the jurors stated, only then I MIGHT believe them. Maybe.

I know you've seen jurors do things like, hypothetically, read that Cosby said, "I've heard that people are able to drug someone and then SEXually assault them." Then the jurors conclude, "Only a guilty person would be thinking like that." And, "He didn't look sad that could happen." I know you've seen that. How could you be so gullible?

Wage war on the SEX Offender Registries and the witch hunt. Today and every day.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | May 2, 2018 2:01:20 PM

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