After jurors spent more time deliberating Bill Cosby's guilt or innocence than attorneys spent presenting the sexual assault case in court, the men and women entrusted to decide the entertainer's legal fate reported they were hopelessly deadlocked after six days of deliberations.
Cosby has been accused of drugging and assaulting as many as five dozen women over decades, however, the judge in the case would only allow one other woman to testify to her experience with Cosby. Had the prosecuting attorney been able to bring another dozen alleged victims to testify, it may have demonstrated a pattern of “prior bad acts.”
Jurors deliberated for up to 12 hours a day for six days, trying to reach a verdict on charges that in 2004 he drugged a woman without her knowledge while she was visiting his home and she awoke sometime later to find him sexually assaulting her. Cosby contends he gave the woman an allergy pill and that their sexual relationship was consensual. The jury could not decide which explanation to believe and could not reach a verdict. The bottom line: the state prosecutor failed to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for substantially the same crime. That would be considered double jeopardy. For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Double Jeopardy Clause yet it does not preclude retrial following a hung jury.
A hung jury results when there are insufficient jurors voting one way or the other to deliver either a guilty or not guilty verdict, according to the Fully Informed Jury Association. This is also known as a “deadlocked jury.” Once a jury announces it is deadlocked, a judge will instruct the members to continue deliberating. If the jury's struggle to come to agreement continues, the judge eventually will declare a mistrial. A jury in deadlock is just one of the reasons a court case may end in a mistrial.
In a mistrial, the defendant is neither convicted nor acquitted. An acquittal means he or she was found not guilty. Following a mistrial, the prosecuting attorney can opt for a retrial. In the case of Bill Cosby, the prosecutor has indicated he will take the entertainer to court again. The judge in the case stated that within a few months he will set a date for the new trial.
From a defendant's perspective, a hung jury is preferable to a conviction. With a hung jury, a prosecutor may decide not to retry the case. Whereas, with a guilty verdict, there is no guarantee the defendant can appeal the decision. And, “even when a defendant is able to appeal a conviction, that individual no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence,” according to the Jury Association.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone deserves the best defense. If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.