Team Cosby Barred From Accuser’s Deposition

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) — The woman whom Bill Cosby is charged with drugging and assaulting need not worry about the comedian interfering with her upcoming deposition, a federal judge ruled.
     As her criminal case against 79-year-old Cosby heads to trial in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Andrea Constand is pursuing civil charges in Philadelphia against the former district attorney who declined to prosecute Cosby a decade ago.
     Bruce Castor Jr. was the DA of Montgomery County in 2005 when Constand first reported having been allegedly drugged and assaulted by Cosby.
     When Castor refused to prosecute, Constand sued Cosby in civil court.
     Cosby’s damning deposition in that 2005 case — in which he admitted to giving women quaaludes before having sex with them — ultimately paved the way to the criminal charges against him.
     When Cosby rape accusations had reached an apex last year, Castor was using the case as part of his ultimately unsuccessful bid to win back his old seat in 2015.
     Constand hit back with a federal complaint, saying the DA who had called her case “weak” in 2005 was now making her “collateral damage for his political ambitions.”
     The Associated Press quoted Castor as saying that Constand had undersold her claims 10 years ago.
     As this defamation case marches toward discovery, Cosby requested permission for sit in on Constand’s deposition. The comedian contends that Constand may violate the terms of their settlement by answering certain questions during her deposition.
     U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno shot the request down but did say Cosby’s attorneys can review the deposition transcript after the fact.
     “There is no reason for Cosby to be present at the deposition to object as to matters on which he and Constand agree; Constand already represents his interests to that extent,” Robreno wrote. “As to matters on which Cosby and Constand disagree, Constand would not be obligated to honor Cosby’s objections to any given question, and the court would not be in a position to resolve any disputes over the scope of the confidentiality provision during a contemporaneous phone call, given that the court has never been presented with the full CSA and has never ruled on the meanings of any of its provisions.”
     CSA is short for confidential settlement agreement.
     Robreno said the transcript of Constand’s deposition will be sealed for 30 days — giving Cosby time to “file any objections to particular questions asked and/or answers provided during the deposition.”
     Once the court has considered whatever objections arise, and Constand’s responses to them it will “determine whether to strike the questions and/or answers at issue, to keep the deposition under seal for good cause shown, to lift the seal, or to resolve the matter in some other way.”
     The 16-page ruling also blocks Cosby’s attempts to intervene in the deposition of Risa Vetri Ferman, a current judge with the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
     Before Ferman took her seat on the court this year, she had succeeded Castor as Montgomery DA. The current Montgomery DA is Kevin Steele.
     “In effect, Mr. Cosby seeks to use Judge Ferman’s deposition in this civil matter to obtain discovery for use in his criminal case,” Robreno wrote.
     The ruling goes on to quote Cosby’s attorney as saying as much in a hearing.
     “It may be taking — it may be availing yourself of the opportunity to learn information that will benefit you in a criminal case,” the attorney said.
     Robreno conclude, however, that “Cosby is not entitled to permissive intervention.”
     Robreno concluded the ruling by denying Judge Ferman’s request for a protective order.
     Ferman wanted the court to prohibit any deposition inquiry into areas protected various privilege. Ferman contends that any inquiries into the Cosby criminal investigation would implicate said privileges.
     Denying the request as premature, Robreno noted that “Judge Ferman’s deposition has not yet occurred; no questions have been asked and no privileges invoked.”
     “Before the court knows what questions will be asked of Judge Ferman, and what objections will be asserted in response, the court cannot accurately determine which interests are actually at stake, and whose rights would or would not be threatened by the disclosure of any given piece of information,” te ruling states. “If the court’s assistance is later required, the parties may bring any concrete disputes to the court’s attention.”

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