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Cosby’s Newest Legal Strategy is ‘Risky,’ Dean Dan Filler Tells New York Times

Dean Daniel M. Filler

October 24, 2018

A New York Times article on comedian Bill Cosby’s newest strategy for fighting his sexual assault conviction includes insights from Dean Dan Filler, an authority on criminal law.

The Oct. 22 article notes that Cosby has hired new lawyers to replace a succession of advocates who have represented him during his three-year effort to avoid prison. The article notes that the new team includes Brian W. Perry, a former deputy district attorney and current chairman of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s criminal procedural rules committee. According to the article, Perry may refer an ethics complaint against Judge Steven T. O’Neill to the state’s Judicial Conduct Board.

Bringing an ethics complaint against O’Neill, who presided over the trial that led to Cosby’s conviction, is “really risky,” Filler said, noting it could undermine the lawyer’s future appearances before the jurist and that appellate judges would likely frown on any grievance that lacks substance.

The article describes the turnover that has occurred in the legal representation for Cosby, whose first criminal trial ended in a hung jury and who has been named in numerous civil cases by other women who allege that the comedian assaulted them.The new team represents the 12th firm and the 20th lawyer Cosby has brought on for his defense.

Lawyers representing high-profile defendants like Cosby can face inherent risks, the article notes, but questioning the integrity of a DA and judge makes the enterprise especially fraught.

“Lawyers have to protect their reputations,” Filler said. “They are repeat players in the justice system. They don’t want to be tainted by a radioactive client.”