With a verdict of guilty in the Bill Cosby case, legal pundits across the country are faced with a decision of whether the outcome was one that was just or one that was the product of outrage on social media? The Cosby decision leads many to wonder if the famed comedian and actor was a victim of his own fame or someone that truly deserved the punishment that will be dealt out at sentencing. In any event, the Cosby decision is one that is filled with controversy and will have a profound affect the legal community. How the judicial system and social media will continue to co-exist is a matter of pure speculation but one that needs to be addressed and this article will attempt to do so.
There is no question that the “#MeToo” Movement has left a resounding mark on those in the criminal defense sector and the state of Michigan has come to the forefront with accusations of criminal assault on the rise. To review the Cosby case and to discuss the impact felt across the state of Michigan, we sat down with leaders in the criminal law sector to gather their thoughts on the issue.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and the renowned leader in criminal defense across the state of Michigan. Grabel provided insight on the issues when he stated, “Cosby had an amazing lawyer and in the Spring of 2017 a jury could not decide on his guilt. The allegations against Bill Cosby were damming but it certainly shows how the court is viewing the crime of rape (CSC). Our firm is handling many cases that have allegations stemming from over 10 years ago. The legislation has changed to modify the statute of limitations in Michigan and there is no question that allegations will continue to come forward in the wake of this decision.”
Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of Ann Arbor PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan. McManus’s firm handles a lot of criminal defense work and has seen a rise in CSC litigation. McManus stated, “In the wake of Cosby and the Larry Nassar decision, we are seeing many people coming out of the past claiming they were sexually assaulted. While there is a lack of physical evidence, the #MeToo Movement has encouraged people coming forward and the courts are placing a great deal of value in the words of the accusers. Make no mistake about it, if there is a true victim they have every right to come forward but there have been a lot of false claims that have made it to the courthouse steps. Overzealous prosecution has been the norm of late and when someone with the fame of Bill Cosby faces a lengthy prison sentence, there is a greater chance that the average person has become venerable.”
Ravi Gurumurthy is the founder of Michigan Legal North as well as an Associate Attorney for Grabel and Associates. Gurumurthy commented, “When we examine the first trial with Cosby, it is eye-opening. We see how a short period of time can alter the perception but we have to dig deeper and understand the the members of the jury have become more essential than ever. The key to CSC defense in the next decade in Michigan and federally will be voir dire. The jury pool in the second trial was very different from the first and clearly the outcome changed. CSC defense is going to be on the rise and when you see a name like Bill Cosby get convicted, you can be certain that the floodgate of prosecution will be coming down the road.”
Recent studies have shown that CSC claims in Michigan have risen at a faster pace than any state in the last 5 years. Along with the allegations has brought about a tremendous amount of false claims. While committing a CSC is one of the most serious charges that can be brought and deserves stiff punishment, there are two sides to every story and many stories are fabricated. We have to look no further than the Bill Cosby sage where we see two trials with two different verdicts. The criminal defendant has become vulnerable and the victim has become empowered. A valid claim of CSC should be fought with the greatest victor but a false claim should also have ramifications that have not yet surfaced in the Michigan court system. The future in the litigation of the crime is about the charter new territory and the attorney will need to be more prepared than they have ever been or else their clients’ will face the consequences.
William Amadeo is a partner at Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate at Grabel and Associates. In addition to his legal duties, Amadeo owns BAT Tutoring in Lansing, Michigan and has columns with “The Chronicle News” and a number of other websites across the Internet. He can be reached at Williamamadeo@Grabellaw.com.