- Pennsylvania's top court overturned Bill Cosby's conviction because of a 2005 deal he made with a prosecutor.
- That prosecutor, Bruce Castor, made headlines this year as Trump's impeachment lawyer.
- A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice suggested Castor's deal with Cosby was ethically questionable.
Bill Cosby's 2018 sexual-assault conviction was thrown out by Pennsylvania's highest court on Wednesday, and Cosby was released from prison shortly after. The ruling was the product of a deal Cosby had made with a district attorney in 2005 in which the prosecutor promised Cosby he wouldn't be charged in a case involving Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004.
That prosecutor — Bruce Castor, then the Montgomery County district attorney — made headlines this year when he represented former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.
Under the terms of his deal with Cosby, Castor asked the disgraced comedian to testify in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in exchange for avoiding prosecution.
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Castor's deal with Cosby should have prevented Cosby from being charged in the case, which ultimately landed him behind bars.
Cosby, 83, has spent the past two years in prison. He was serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated indecent assault. The ex-comedian was recently denied parole for refusing to participate in a therapy program for sex offenders.
He was released shortly after the court's ruling came down on Wednesday.
The justices ruled 6-1 that Cosby's reliance on Castor's promise that he wouldn't face prosecution meant his conviction should be tossed out. They were divided 4-3, however, on whether vacating the conviction meant Cosby could never again be prosecuted or whether it meant his testimony during previous depositions was not permissible in the event of a retrial.
Justice Kevin Dougherty also appeared to suggest that Castor's offer not to prosecute Cosby was ethically questionable.
“If district attorneys had the power to dole out irrevocable get-out-of-jail-free cards at will and without any judicial oversight, it would invite a host of abuses,” he wrote in an opinion endorsed by Chief Justice Max Baer. In an accompanying footnote, Dougherty wrote, “One might reasonably wonder if such abuses were at work in this case, particularly given Castor's odd and ever-shifting explanations for his actions.”
Castor was widely mocked by legal experts and lawmakers over his rambling, incoherent performance during Trump's second impeachment trial in February following the deadly Capitol insurrection.
—Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) June 30, 2021
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska at the time described being “really stunned” by Castor, adding, “I couldn't figure out where he was going.”
Alan Dershowitz, who was on Trump's legal team during his first impeachment trial, excoriated Castor over his handling of the trial.
“There is no argument. I have no idea what he's doing,” Dershowitz said in an appearance on the right-wing outlet Newsmax, adding, “That's not the kind of argument I would have made, I have to tell you that.”
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