Closing arguments are scheduled today in Bill Cosby’s second trial on charges of drugging and sexually abusing a woman, Andrew Costand. The case previously went to trial last year, and ended in a hung jury. This time around, there was some additional evidence that went in front of the jury. The prosecutors were permitted to introduce the testimony of several other women, including supermodel Janice Dickinson, who allege that Cosby also drugged and assaulted them in a similar manner: in the first trial, they were only permitted to introduce the testimony of one women, who did not testify in this case. That’s huge for the effect on the impression of Cosby’s character. However, the Defense was permitted to introduce the testimony of a co-worker of the accuser, who claims that Constand had confided that she had a plan to accuse Cosby in order to cash in, and that she ultimately received a settlement of $3.4 million. That evidence was not heard at the first trial, either.
Closing arguments should conclude today, though jury deliberations may continue beyond this evening. The tenor of this trial was very different, as Cosby’s new attorney Tom Mesereau pointedly attacked the accuser and her financial interest in the claims. They also introduced evidence from Cosby’s private plane suggesting he was not even in Philadelphia at the time she alleges the attack to have occurred. The case will soon be in the hands of the jury- Cosby faces several years in prison for the three counts, of he could walk free. This is the only case of the multiple accusations against him for which the statute of limitations has not expired. The last jury deliberated over the course of six days, so it may be a while before there is a verdict.
Famed comedian Bill Cosby goes back on trial this week for charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman several years ago. Since the charges were filed, dozens of other woman have come forward to allege that Cosby had similar conduct with them. The case went to trial 10 months ago, and ended with a hung jury. Even though Cosby’s attorneys managed to avoid a conviction at that trial, Cosby now has a new legal team lead by Tom Mesereau, who has handled such high-profile clients as Michael Jackson.
The trial will be quite different this time, as the new attorneys seem more aggressive, and the evidence has substantially changed. For the first trial, the court allowed one other accuser to testify about her experience with Cosby. This time around, the court has permitted up to five other accusers to testify. Last time around, the attorneys were able to cast enough doubt on the “similar fact evidence” witness that the jurors later said they completely disregarded her. It will be very difficult for them to disregard five, or to demonstrate that they are financially motivated. One of the possible witnesses is model Janice Dickinson, who has sued Cosby for defamation for attacking her claims. It’s unclear why the judge decided that five other people can testify in this trial when they couldn’t in the last one, but it appears to make the situation far more grave for Cosby.
Generally, a retrial favors the prosecution… and probably more so when the judge permits a substantial amount of evidence that was previously excluded. We will find out the final outcome when the trial concludes, probably not for about a month.
Elwood “Drunk Lives Matter” Gutshall
Elwood Gutshall III was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving, wearing a St. Patrick’s Day t-shirt, even though it was a couples days past the holiday. His oh-so-clever shirt read “Drunk Lives Matter”. He blew .217, more than two and a half times the limit in Pennsylvania, and will go to court next month to answer his charge.
Ironically, it’s the three-year anniversary of a similar story we ran, where an alleged drunk driver was busted while wearing a shirt that says, “Drunk as Sh**”.
Believe it or not, neither of these busts occurred in Florida!
Crystal Sweigart, who has been charged with running a prostitution ring in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has a rather novel defense to the prostitution charges. She admits that she was giving unlicensed massages (which is a crime, itself), but says that the sexual contact that occurred afterward was merely fun between friends after work. She said, “Anything that happened when the massage stopped becomes two consenting adults having fun,” Sweigart said. “What I’m complaining about is (police) labeling it as [prostitution].”
Legally that would be a defense to the prostitution charge. However, the fact that the patrons gave her additional money when the sex acts occurred belies the fact that it was merely fun. It sounds like sexual contact in exchange for money. She admits that it’s incriminating: “Did I refuse the money? No,” Sweigart said. “Should I have or would it have looked better on me if I didn’t? Probably.” Two men have also been charged for patronizing prostitutes. Beware the happy ending…
Tyler Anspach, a 25-year-old man from Milton, PA, was arrested for drunk driving on a Cub Cadet lawnmower, along with driving on a suspended license, no registration, and other charges. He has had several DUI related incidents, and apparently thought he’d figured out a work-around with his lawnmower. He was wrong.
The law in Florida is similar to PA… you can get a DUI on any vehicle, which includes pretty much anything on wheels. We’ve seen plenty of riding mower DUIs around these parts. You can also get criminal charge for suspended license on any motor vehicle, and I have seen people prosecuted for that as well in Florida, in spite of how charming Richard Farnsworth and David Lynch made it look in “A Straight Story” (which is based on a true story). It may help that Mr. Straight wasn’t hauling a case of beer and a .2 BAC!
The Supreme Court is going to hear a case next week that will determine when threats posted on social media, in this case Facebook, rise to the level of a true threat. The case in question dealt with comments Anthony Elonis made toward his estranged wife (and others). He was convicted, sentenced to prison, and the case already upheld by the 3rd Circuit.
While the 1st Amendment gives protection to speech, that protection does not extend to ‘true threats’. This case will examine when musings posted on a Facebook wall are protected, and when they go to far. It will have ramifications in Florida, which has harsh punishments for Written Threats, which include social media posts under Florida law.
See Also: Felonies for Facebook posts