NORRISTOWN >> Seeking a dismissal of the sexual assault charges lodged against him, Bill Cosby, through his lawyers, accused Montgomery County prosecutors of misconduct for allegedly failing to disclose they interviewed a potential trial witness and destroyed notes of that meeting.
“The cumulative effect of the wrongdoing in this case, and the politically and emotionally charged context of this case, elevates the misconduct to a level of constitutional violation and prosecutorial overreach depriving Mr. Cosby of any meaningful right to a fair trial. Such misconduct warrants dismissal of the charges,” the defense team led by Thomas Mesereau Jr. wrote in court papers available Friday.
The latest legal battle involves alleged statements of Marguerite Jackson, who reportedly worked with Cosby accuser Andrea Constand at Temple University and who claimed Constand once told her that she “had not been sexually assaulted but she could say that she had, file charges and get money,” according to documents filed by the defense.
In court papers, the defense lawyers claimed prosecutors recently disclosed for the first time that prior to Cosby’s first trial last June a prosecutor and two detectives interviewed Jackson.
“Yet, the prosecution failed to disclose to the defense that they met with this witness and that they destroyed the notes of their meeting,” the defense team wrote.
The lawyers have asked Judge Steven T. O’Neill to hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter “at which the defense would be permitted to examine the members of the prosecution team regarding their interactions with Ms. Jackson and Ms. Constand as well as their decision to destroy the notes of their conversation with Ms. Jackson.”
“Throughout this course of conduct, the prosecution committed multiple violations of its ethical responsibilities and violated Mr. Cosby’s constitutional rights,” the defense lawyers argued.
Specifically, the defense team argued, prosecutors violated their discovery obligations.
Additionally, Cosby’s lawyers claimed Constand testified during Cosby’s first trial that she did not know or remember Jackson.
“Despite their knowledge of Ms. Jackson’s and Ms. Constand’s relationship, the prosecutors stood silent while Ms. Constand testified under oath that she did not know Ms. Jackson and they persuaded the court to bar the defense from exploring the topic with Ms. Constand through cross-examination and from calling Ms. Jackson to testify,” defense lawyers wrote.
Cosby’s new defense team is taking another stab at getting Jackson’s testimony included at the retrial and the judge has not yet ruled on that request. Jackson, the defense claims, would testify that Constand once told her she could fabricate a claim of sexual assault to “get money to go to school and open a business.”
Cosby’s lawyers suggested the conversation between Constand and Jackson occurred in January or February of 2003 or 2004. Prosecutors have alleged Constand was sexually assaulted by Cosby in January 2004 at his Cheltenham mansion.
District Attorney Kevin R. Steele has 10 days to respond to the defense team’s claims.
“We will be filing a response within 10 days and will be addressing inaccuracies in their filings,” Kate Delano, director of communications for the district attorney’s office, responded on Friday.
Judge O’Neill scheduled hearings on all pretrial motions for March 5 and March 6. Jury selection begins for Cosby’s retrial on March 29.
William Henry Cosby Jr., as his name appears on charging documents, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with allegations he had inappropriate sexual contact with Constand at his Cheltenham home after plying her with blue pills and wine sometime in January 2004.
Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial last June 17 after a jury of seven men and five women selected from Allegheny County individually told the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked “on all counts” after deliberating more than 52 hours over six days. The deliberations took longer than the evidentiary portion of the trial.
Steele immediately vowed to seek a retrial.
Cosby, 80, remains free on 10 percent of $1 million bail, pending the retrial and faces a possible maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
The newspaper does not normally identify victims of sex crimes without their consent but is using Constand’s name because she has identified herself publicly.