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It's hard to laugh at Bill Cosby's jokes anymore.
But it is ironic that one of his jokes was at issue in a critical hearing during his sexual assault case pending in Philadelphia. Prosecutors sought to introduce something Cosby said in his book, "Childhood," about giving girls the Spanish fly aphrodisiac to get them interested.
"They're never in the mood for us," Cosby wrote. "They need chemicals."
The judge disallowed the evidence, but will allow even more damning deposition testimony from Cosby himself. The crossroads in the proceedings offers a lesson about how to deal with bad facts in a case.
Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. He claims the encounter was consensual.
But in a 2005 deposition in the case, Cosby said he bought quaaludes to give to women he was pursuing for sex. Legal analyst Rikki Kleiman said the admission exposes him to "some" legal jeopardy.
Kleiman said Cosby's lawyers did damage control by stopping the deposition. Cosby also said he misunderstood the question. However, Kleiman told CBS News, the admission killed him in the court of public opinion.
"This admission is dynamite against him," she said.
It Gets In
If a judge allows such damning evidence at trial, attorneys have to deal with it head-on. If not, opposing counsel will. It boils down to extraordinary trial preparation.
According to lawyers who have won seemingly impossible cases, this includes masterful story-telling, challenging the evidence, making clients look good, and knowing cases inside and out.
"The lawyer who is as comfortable handling the imperfections in their case as readily as they handle the stronger aspects of their case is the one that is going to succeed," says attorney Shannon Bloodworth. "The most successful lawyers are able to use the strength of a case as a shield to protect its weaker points."
In other words, take bad facts seriously. It's no joke, even for clients like Cosby.