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News Posted on March 9, 2018

Professor Imwinkelried Cited in ABC Report on Cosby Trial

Professor Edward Imwinkelried is cited in an ABC News report on the retrial of comedian Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges.

In the case, the prosecution has asked the judge to allow it to present testimony by 19 women who claim to have been assaulted by Cosby in a similar manner. The defense is objecting that the admission of the testimony would violate the character evidence prohibition. That rule forbids the government from introducing evidence of an accused's other crimes in order to show his or her personal, subjective disposition to commit similar crimes. However, the prosecution is countering that the testimony of the other 19 women is admissible under the doctrine of objective chances.

The article quotes Professor Imwinkelried as explaining that rather than relying on an inference about the accused's subjective character, the doctrine rests on the objective improbability of a person's innocent involvement in an extraordinary number of similar, suspicious incidents. As support for its motion, the prosecution is pointing to a concurring opinion in a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision which cites Professor Imwinkelried's analysis of the doctrine. Professor Imwinkelried is the author of a two-volume treatise on the subject, Uncharged Misconduct Evidence.