Issue is whether Officer William Porter can be compelled to testify against others.
Maryland’s Court of Appeals (the state’s highest-level “supreme court”) ruled yesterday that the trials of the Baltimore police officers charged in the Freddie Gray incident will be postponed while they decide whether one of those officers, William Porter, can be compelled to testify against the others.
We covered the legal issues in a prior posts:
- Freddie Gray Case: Appellate Court Puts Hold On Officer’s Compelled Testimony
- Freddie Gray Trial: William Porter ordered to testify in trials of other officers [trial court]
The next officer to be tried was scheduled to be Officer Edward Nero, in whose case jury selection was to have begun this coming Monday.
The difficulty in this case, and an area of law without precedent in Maryland, arises because Porter remains vulnerable to criminal prosecution. Porter was the first of the officers to be tried, last fall, but the trial resulted in a hung jury without verdict, and prosecutors immediately stated they would retry the case.
Had Porter been either acquitted or convicted he would have been free of further prosecution (at least by the state of Maryland; he would, and does, remain vulnerable to prosecution on Federal charges). Absent the prospect of further prosecution the prospects for compelling his testimony in the trials of the other officers would have been far less complicated.
Prosecutors have said that Porter’s testimony is deemed essential to those other trials, and have long since announced that they consider him a material witness in those cases.
It is also the case that Maryland tends to be rather strict about requiring a speedy trial for criminal defendants, and criminal cases are rather routinely dismissed when a defendant’s right to a speedy trial is violated. This delay in the Baltimore officers’ trials is likely to raise substantive argument for their defense counsel that their client’s rights to a speedy trial are being violated and their charges should therefore be dismissed.
Keep your eyes here for ongoing coverage of the Freddie Gray trials.
Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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