05 25 2016
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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Death Row ReportClick on picture to get Pdf. of report

A new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights finds that prisoners on California and Louisiana's death row are being held in degrading and inhumane conditions that amount to torture under international law.

Prison staff, psychiatrists, prisoners and their families, and exonerated death row inmates were among the people interviewed to discover the ugly truth behind the bars.

The investigation teams who prepared the report found that both California and Louisiana often hold condemned prisoners in solitary confinement for decades. That's a practice that leads to severe psychological and physical harm, and is against international law.

Discrimination against Blacks and other minorities is widespread in both prison systems. The report found stark racial and geographic disparities in death penalty charging and sentencing rates in both states, as well as a significant overrepresentation of minorities on death row.

"In California, the ratio of African Americans on death row is nearly six times their percentage in the population at large, and in Louisiana, the percentage of African Americans is double their representation in the population," the Center for Constitutional rights says in a press release.

From the Report: John Thompson's Story
John Thompson had been convicted of murder in 1985.
In the fourteen years he spent on death row, Thompson was given six dates for his execution, all procedurally stayed so that he could continue appeals. With each new writ of execution, the pressure on Mr. Thompson became "more crushing" and forced him to think about his life as "a constant countdown to lethal injection."
After his defense team exhausted all formal avenues of appeal, Thompson was given his seventh date, which he knew would be his last. Mr. Thompson prepared to die. He sought to tell his youngest son about his scheduled death, which would occur the day before the boy's high school graduation, but his son's teacher unknowingly informed him first, announcing the upcoming execution to his class.
 Just weeks before his scheduled execution, a private investigator on John's case discovered scientific evidence of his innocence which had been hidden by the prosecutor's office. His life was spared and Thompson returned home. In addition to evidencing the struggles of those on death row, Thompson's case is a prime example of the lack of redress for victims of due process violations and torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
Upon release from prison, Thompson was given $10 and a bus ticket. Although a jury later awarded Thompson $14 million in damages, the Supreme Court reversed this
award due to immunity protections the U.S. provides prosecutors.
Mr. Thompson is now organizing other exonerees in his community and across the nation to seek better prosecutorial oversight and options for redress.

Louisiana prisoners are held in solitary cells with no respite from extremes of heat and cold – sometimes in temperatures of 110 degrees. In San Quentin prison, more prisoners have committed suicide than have been executed.

Several states, for example Illinois, have abolished the death penalty over concerns about wrongful convictions.

Florence Bellivier, the International Federation for Human Rightsrepresentative who led the California investigation, called for both states to abolish the death penalty.  

"Louisiana and California should urgently revise their policy and abolish the death penalty." she says in a press release.

 "In 2012, 21 countries carried out executions, including the United States. By abolishing capital punishment, the US would join a growing national and worldwide movement. It's about the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights."

Bellivier is president of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who led the mission in Louisiana also called for an end to the death penalty.

"The death penalty constitutes an inherent violation of the most fundamental of all human rights: the right to live," he said in a statement.

"Not only are death row prisoners being denied this fundamental right in a process known to be rife with errors and discrimination, but in California and Louisiana, they are also being held, sometimes for decades on end, in conditions that clearly violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a party."

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