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Cosby Case Ends in Mistrial

Despite engaging in 52 hours of deliberations, a jury failed to render a unanimous verdict in the criminal trial of Bill Cosby, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. The Pennsylvania prosecutors who tried the case have promised to retry Cosby on sexual assault charges.

Jurors were hopelessly deadlocked on three counts of aggravated sexual assault against the famous comedian, who at the time potentially faced years in prison for allegedly drugging and fondling Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. Constand's allegations echoed similar accusations levied by dozens of women against Cosby. 

The prosecutors told the press that they planned to immediately seek a second trial, which Judge Steven O'Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas intimated could start as soon as within four months. Constand maintained her composure after the mistrial was declared and did not speak to any reporters.

A mistrial is not a free pass for the defense, as the case can be retried after a mistrial is declared. But, once the defense has seen the prosecution's case and argument, it can be easier to poke holes in their argument and defend the case more aggresively. 

Juries in criminal cases are generally required to reach a unanimous verdict because the United States as a society has adopted the principle, stemming from English jurist William Blackstone, that it is better to have ten guilty people go free than one innocent person be punished. Embodied in the maxim those accused are "innocent until proven guilty," this idea is why the jury must reach a unanimous decision, in order to place a high burden of proof on the prosecution.  

Although Cosby escaped criminal liability this time, and may do so again in a future trial, the damage done to his reputation and credibility is beyond repair. Cosby's image as "America's dad" that was so carefully cultivated through the rise of "The Cosby Show" in the 1980's and beyond is gone, and can never be fully restored. 


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