Supreme Court Makes Decision on Taking up Appeal of Bill Cosby's Overturned Conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to intervene in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case, meaning that the comedian is still considered not guilty. Cosby was convicted of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 and sent to prison, but in June of 2021 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned that conviction and released him. Prosecutors asked the nation's highest court to review this decision, and on Monday the Supreme Court decided to let it stand, according to a report by CNN.

Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women over the course of his career, though the extent of those allegations did not reach the general populous until around 2017. Many of those alleged attacks took place outside the statute of limitations, but in 2018 Cosby was convicted of one assault that allegedly took place in 2004. He was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison but was released early in June when the state supreme court overturned his conviction.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Cosby's due process rights had been violated in his 2018 case. Cosby was prosecuted by the Montgomery County district attorney's office, with which he had a run-in at least once before in 2005. At that time, the DA's office agreed not to prosecute Cosby in exchange for his agreement to be deposed in a civil case. The state Supreme Court decided that the 2018 prosecution was a violation of the 2005 agreement.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court signaled agreement with this decision without any added commentary. The justices reportedly rejected the prosecutors' petition to review this case without explaining why. One of Cosby's lawyers, Jennifer Bonjean, has issued a public statement urging the Supreme Court not to do so.

"Under the unique facts of the case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that [the former district attorney] had made an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and that Cosby had relied on that promise to his detriment, namely foregoing his Fifth Amendment guarantees and testifying at four days of depositions, and that as a matter of fundamental fairness, the promise should be enforced," she said.

Prosecutors issued another statement warning that this decision could have "Far-reaching negative consequences" for the legal system across the country. It read: "The question presented to the Court is: 'Where a prosecutor publicly announces that he will not file criminal charges based on lack of evidence, does the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment transform that announcement into a binding promise that no charges will ever be filed, a promise that the target may rely on as if it were a grant of immunity?'"