Male Anchor: The Bill Cosby criminal trial begins tomorrow after prosecutors rested their case on Friday. As the defense prepares to make its case, many are wondering if the comedian will take the stand. Just last month, the 79-year-old said he would not testify. But a week into the trial, Cosby’s publicist is signaling that may now be a possibility.
Andrea Constand accused Cosby of drugging and assaulting her in his home back in 2004. Cosby and his team have repeatedly denied these allegations of sexual misconduct. The comedian is charged with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Joining me now is criminal justice attorney Enrique Latoison. He’s in Philadelphia, closely monitoring the case. Sir, great to have you with us. So let’s talk a little bit about what’s at stake if in fact Bill Cosby takes the stand.
Enrique Latoison: Well, you have to play this out. So far, the defense has stayed with a very consistent approach here which has been attack the prosecution, show the biases, show any inconsistencies.
Now, if you put the defense on, if you put Bill Cosby on, you have some things that could work in his favor. The jury will be able to see. This is a man. He’s in failing health. He’s 79 years old. He’s legally blind. He will be able to talk about what it’s like back in 2005 when he was still at the height of his career to possibly be targets of people trying to extort him for money or things of that nature. He will be able to look the jury in the eye. He will be able to tell them, “I did nothing illegal here. This was consensual.”
However, right when you do that, now you open the door for the prosecution to bring in 50 to 60 prior accusers, to be able to come in as rebuttal witnesses to say everything he just testified is not true and we’re now going to get on the stand and we’re going to tell you our stories.
Male Anchor: So that begs the question then, are jurors more sympathetic or less sympathetic when a defendant doesn’t testify on this behalf?
Enrique Latoison: Well, the jury will be given an instruction that says he has the right to remain silent. You cannot use that against him. Every American citizen has a right not to testify in any particular case.
Now some jurors may want to hear from him. They may want to hear him look at them in the eye and say, “I didn’t do this.” That it was consensual but you have to look at the defense here. They were lucky enough to only have one prior accuser be able to testify so far in this trial. This could open the door. It can be very damaging. Possibly you can have 50 to 60 people coming on the stand, parading in and out of court as rebuttal witnesses, testifying and each one of these people are going to want to tell their story.
So as a defense, you have to be able to weigh these things out. They’ve had a year to prepare for this case. I believe that they’ve already pretty much thought out what they plan on doing.
Male Anchor: Yeah, talk about that for a little bit. You alluded to it earlier on in terms of what a defense strategy would look like in terms of attacking the prosecution. But what type of defense will Cosby’s attorney need to make this week?
Enrique Latoison: Well, he’s allowed to show character witnesses, witnesses that could testify to his law abidingness. So he could parade as many people as he want, famous people, family, support, be able to come in and testify that he has a reputation for law abidingness in the community.
He’s allowed to have those people testify. They possibly also can put on some witnesses that can testify about the effects of quaaludes or Benadryl and things of that nature. Also another witness to testify – they had an expert testify by the prosecution late in the week about how victims of sexual crimes – how they react. They could bring on their own expert witness to testify about things, about how these victims should act and things of that nature.
Male Anchor: So very quickly though, we’ve got a few seconds left. You were talking about the optics of those that can come in as character defense witnesses. What’s the significance of these people that are coming in, some celebrities that have been walking in with him to his trial every morning and what message that sends to the jury.
Enrique Latoison: Well, I mean juries are people to. They see these famous people. They know who they are and for these people to be able to actually get on the stand, swear under oath and say he has a great reputation for law abidingness, great reputation in the community. The Bill Cosby that we know and love will never do something like this.
Male Anchor: All right. Criminal defense attorney Enrique Latoison. Sorry, we ran a little bit out of time there. But I appreciate your insights. We will be watching this all week long as well. All right. We’re going to be right back after the commercial break.