As I’ve mentioned before, I’m terrified of dealing with the criminal justice system in almost any significant way. I don’t have the money to mount a substantial defense and … actually that’s it. That’s the entire reason. I have little faith in the criminal justice system, and I can’t buy my way out of it.
So I’ve relied on my near encyclopedic knowledge of Law & Order to carry me through any possible run-ins with the court system. But I have to admit, this week has been rough on my faith in that knowledge. Making a Murderer has already dispelled my belief that the way to request a new lawyer during a trial is by standing up in the middle of proceedings, shouting that your public defender is fired and that you want your buddy’s cousin Vinny to be your lawyer. Actually now that I’m hearing that one out loud, that might not have come from Law & Order knowledge.
The one unmovable fact that remains (other than my ability to differentiate between reckless homicide and manslaughter) is that spouses can never, ever be compelled to testify against each other. That’s why if any person you know is aware of your illegal dealings, you marry them right there. Marriage is the homebase of the legal system, and investigators are prohibited from even thinking about questioning someone you’re married to.
Unless you’re married to Bill Cosby.
Yeah, turns out the long-time wife of long-time rapist Bill Cosby will have to testify in a deposition for the defamation case filed against Cosby by 7 of his 50 rape accusers. But how is that legal?
U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy addressed that issue last week when he denied Cosby’s motion to quash the subpoena for her deposition: “The right to depose a witness and the right to use that testimony in court are separate and distinct.”
But Camille Cosby didn’t attempt to quash the subpoena under a spousal privilege law, but rather the “marital disqualification law” in Massachusetts, which decrees, “In any proceeding, civil or criminal, a witness shall not testify as to private conversations with a spouse occurring during their marriage.”
While that might sound the same to a layman’s ears, Newman points out a legal distinction. “This is not a spousal privilege law. Rather, it is a ‘disqualification’ rule which speaks only to a party’s competence to testify,” she said.
As for why Cosby didn’t use Massachusetts’ spousal privilege law to try to quash the subpoena for her deposition, Newman said, “on its face, [the Massachusetts spousal privilege law] only applies in criminal cases, and only applies to trial testimony.”
Newman added that the fact that Camille Cosby is Bill Cosby’s business manager as well as his wife might have contributed to the judge’s decision to deny her motion.
So it’s actually legal as fuck.
Of course, Camille Cosby could invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to testify. Sure, it makes you look guilty, but as soon as you utter those magical words you don’t have to answer shit. Provided she’s willing to implicate herself in the execution or cover up of any of Bill’s many, many rapes.
“Embarrassment, or even civil liability, is not criminal liability, and the Fifth only applies to reasonable fear of exposing oneself to future criminal liability,” Newman said. “Essentially, could Camille Cosby’s testimony be used against her in a future criminal trial?”
And if she can’t prove that she reasonably fears her testimony will be used in a future criminal trial against her?
Newman went on to note: “Unless she somehow helped Bill cover up sexual assaults, or helped him engage in them, and it can be shown that there is a legitimate fear of a future criminal proceeding (i.e. the statute of limitations has not run out), Camille could be compelled to answer all deposition questions.”
So on the plus side, Cosby’s victims and the public in general might finally get a small but substantial chance to look both the Cosbys in the eye and ask, “Seriously, what the fuck?” On the negative, I’ve just realized how decidedly screwed I am because Jack McCoy and co. have been seriously lying to me.
You and me both, George. You and me both.
Source: The Wrap