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Freddie Gray case: Grand jury indictments expected soon

Freddie Gray case: Grand jury indictments expected soon

Prosecutors may use Grand Jury proceeding to modify charges

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that defense counsel for the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray anticipate that they will receive formal grand jury indictments within the next two weeks.

At present the officers are charged in District Court, which is a lower-level court not suited to the severity of the charges (which include second-degree depraved-heart murder.)  Accordingly, it has always been anticipated that the charges would be moved to the Circuit Court, where jury trials are held, and where a probable cause hearing on those charges is already scheduled for May 27.

In the usual course of events an indictment would occur before that probable cause hearing, thus the expectation that the indictments will be handed down within the next two weeks.

The Grand Jury will hear evidence presented only by the prosecution, as is normally the case.  Although the defense can challenge the evidence presented by the State, it may not present any evidence of its own.  All parties therefore expect that the Grand Jury will, indeed, indict the officers.

The Grand Jury proceeding is secret, and the State Attorney’s Office is already declining to comment.  Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which Grand Jury testimony may ultimately be revealed to the public; for example, if a witness’s testimony at trial differs from their testimony before the Grand Jury, their earlier statements can be used to impeach their trial statements.

Such inconsistencies in the State’s narrative may be particularly acute in this case. Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby is already being fiercely challenged on multiple public mis-statements of fact and law.  It is for this reason, among many others, that defense counsel for all six officers have collectively filed a motion to have the charges against the officers dismissed, or alternatively, to have Mosby recused from the case.

It is possible that the State may choose to use the Grand Jury proceeding to modify the charges by presenting to the Grand Jury a set of alternative charges better supported by the evidence.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

[Note (5-13-15, 11:55am): This post has been edited to correct earlier inversion of “District Court” and “Circuit Court; thanks to commenter bsidle below for pointing out the error.]


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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.

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Comments

You got the Courts backwards. The police officers are charged in the District Court which is the lower court in Maryland. Upon indictment, the cases will be moved to the Circuit Court which has jurisdiction to hear felonies and hold jury trials. Just another example of the failure of the news media to understand the legal issues in this case.

    I sure did, thanks. I’d blame it on the newspaper source–which also got it wrong–but we have the same court structure here in MA, I should have caught it.

    Just too rushed this morning, I guess. 🙂

    Thanks for the heads up, fixing now.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Sgt. Alicia White is charged with Assault, Manslaughter and Official Misconduct based solely on this factual rendition:

Sgt. Alicia White, Officer Porter and Officer Goodson observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon. Sgt. White, who was responsible for investigating two citizen complaints pertaining to Mr. Greys illegal arrest, spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head. When he did not respond, she did nothing further despite the fact that she was advised that he needed a medic. She made no effort to look , assess or determine his condition. Despite Mr. Gray’s seriously deteriorating medical condition, no medical assistance was rendered to or summonsed for Mr. Gray by any time by any officer.

I don’t know Maryland Statutes or case-law. But in many States this rendition would not support the above mentioned charges.

    dystopia in reply to sequester. | May 13, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Maryland uses the term “manslaughter” to refer to criminally negligent homicide. The rendition is a bit contradictory in Whites case even for criminally negligent homicide. If White was assigned to investigate civilian complaints regarding Grays arrest, and did not supervise any of the other officers, her duty was merely to attempt question Gray, not intervene on Gray’s behalf with officers who had physical custody of Gray.

      Humphrey's Executor in reply to dystopia. | May 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      And do they not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the death that happened about a week later was causally connected to the negligent act. In other words, had they sent him to the hospital right then, he would have lived.

      Is there anything about that in the published reports?

        I believe that the prosecution would have to show that the negligent acts of the defendants resulted in the death of Mr. Gray. Since Mr. Gray was evidently conscious when he entered the van, belligerent and disruptive, and there is no allegation of a rough ride, or assault (in the classic sense of a deliberate battering in the van), the prosecution will have not have an easy time in an unbiased court.

        Gray had spinal surgery at the hospital and died very soon after the surgery. It’s possible that the surgeon was negligent. Perhaps a different surgeon could have saved him. And of course the autopsy was done after the surgery and the medical examiner cannot be certain beyond a reasonable doubt what damage was caused by the cops and what was caused by the surgeon. Only the surgeon would know for sure.

Well.

There’s an historic, ironic use of a grand jury, rat thar.

It’d be interesting to know when this lil’ rope-a-dope has ever been used in the history of EVAH to pull an incompetent, agendized PA’s chestnuts out of the fire she/he built.

I expect we will be treated to LOTS more “firsts” in the sage of Miss Marilyn, and her magic technicolor traveling tent show and slammer avoidance spectacular!

At least it will be a step in the right direction (presumably) for due process for the LEOs.

Char Char Binks | May 13, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Six ham sandwiches, coming up!

    Ragspierre in reply to Char Char Binks. | May 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Don’t count your sandwiches before they’re made.

    “The Grand Jury will hear evidence presented only by the prosecution, as is normally the case. Although the defense can challenge the evidence presented by the State, it may not present any evidence of its own.”

    That means that…contrary to the history here…NOW the LEOs get some due process. They have lawyers, and those lawyers give every indication of being aggressively at work.

    Miss Marilyn is not going to find this a smooth process, and she’s NOW going to be limited to what the law MIGHT support.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | May 13, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Right.

      An unbiased GJ will see that, by defense counsel tipping the lid, the empty kettle Mosby brings to court is just another political vacuum can.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Char Char Binks. | May 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Will people with the [email protected]#$ing “ham sandwich analogy!

    The analogy was made in the 1930’s. There have been a lot of reforms made since then, especially in the 70’s and 80’s.

    Yes it is easier to get an indictment then it is to get a conviction in trial, but that is the way it is supposed to go.

      gregjgrose in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      It’s generally sourced to Sol Wachtler, who used the line in an 1985 interview.

      https://www.nycourts.gov/history/legal-history-new-york/luminaries-court-appeals/wachtler-sol.html

      http://nypost.com/2014/12/10/grand-idea-behind-the-grand-jury/

      but it’s the internet, so who knows?

        Good old Sol Wachtler.

        The same Sol Wachtler who as Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals (their state supreme court) railroaded Bernie Goetz, substantively changing New York State law for the sole purpose of enabling a retroactive conviction.

        The same Sol Wachtler who was having an affair while married, and not JUST with some broad, not JUST with a broad who was related to him by marriage, but with a broad with interests in various inheritances and trusts in excess of $20 million for which Wachtler was a executor and trustee, and for which services he received nearly $1million in payment.

        Layers up on layers upon layers of duplicitousness and conflicts of interest.

        But did the Honorable Chief Judge stop there? Of course not.

        In 1991, three years after the affair began the woman dumped his ass, and poor Sol couldn’t handle it. He began to harass her, intensely, and in 1992 he was arrested on charges of extortion, racketeering, and blackmail. He was sentenced to Federal prison, where he ended up serving 13 months.

        In 2007 New York State saw fit to give him back his law license. No, I’m not kidding.

        Today, of course, the rock-solid liberal Wacthler has a sinecure at Touro Law School in New York as a “Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment,” and where his faculty biography mentions not whit of the above sordid history. I wonder if he teaches any ethics classes, as well?

        Yeah, good old Sol Wachtler.

        What. A. Piece. Of. Work.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Granted Touro is not a top ranked lawschool, but seems you could find plenty of professor talent in a city like New York. New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana are noted for their corruption, but New York is no slouch in that department!

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | May 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

          I remember the Wachtler debacles. I had no idea law schools were so hard up or so far down the libtard road that somebody like Wachtler could distinguish them as a bona fide institution.

          Good God.

        Sammy Finkelman in reply to gregjgrose. | May 13, 2015 at 1:56 pm

        They way it has been quoted, like a proverbial expression, it sounds like it much be older than Sol Wachtler, but it has always been attributed to him as far as I know, if it hsasd been attributed at all.

        http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/indict_a_ham_sandwich/

        I spoke with Sol Wachtler, the former New York State chief judge, and he admitted that the phrase was his and was coined during a lunch interview with Marcia Kramer of the New York Daily News.

        Wachtler — who is Jewish — told me that he regrets that he didn’t say “pastrami” sandwich, adding that he may (surely) have been misquoted about “ham.”

        The takeaway would be that Wachtler either thinks he didn’t name the type of sandwich, (perhaps using a different adjective with sandwich) or he named a different type of sandwich, but not pastrami, which Marcia Kramer did not recognize or did not remember properly. Hero sandwich?

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to gregjgrose. | May 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm

        I remember researching it in the Ferguson days.
        Wachtler was paraphrasing a quote from the 30’s. I will have to research it again to find the exact ( original ) quote, but it’s gonna be hard with all the noise from Ferguson in a google search now.

        I really rail against this because it should be noted that some grand juries never indict anybody. They are used as investigative bodies and have been very effective, especially in cases involving “the mob” and public corruption in general.

      Humphrey's Executor in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Actually, it was the good old days of the ’30s when the “runaway” grand jury still existed. That was the exact opposite of the modern ham sandwich grand jury.

      Char Char Binks in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 13, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      I will never stop using the ham sandwich analogy!

I’m fascinated on how it bothers all of you to see this Black woman do her job. Prosecute cops for a black Maryland victim.I guess only white Maryland racist scumbag criminals deserve the benefit of a Maryland prosecutor.

    amwick in reply to m1. | May 13, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Even Jane Q. Public here can see that she is not doing her job, which is to pursue justice(for all) not vengeance. The lawyers here can spell out and explain the exact issues, but my take is she is way, way off. Madison DA Ismael Ozanne did his job, as difficult as it may have been, this SA is playing fast and loose with six lives hanging in the balance. She has an agenda all right, but actual justice?

    Fiftycaltx in reply to m1. | May 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I guess BECAUSE her “race” is “not white” then she can do NO WRONG?? Competence was bestowed on her AT BIRTH? Did she spring fully clothed from the loins of her mother or did she even require birth? Too bad, race hustler, not everyone values RACE above all else.

    Ragspierre in reply to m1. | May 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    But truthfully, you’re fascinated by watching the clothes go ’round in your mommy’s dryer, and can watch for hours and hours… And only drool most of the time.

    Humphrey's Executor in reply to m1. | May 13, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Complaining about how government officials do their job is a Great American Pastime. So is playing the race card unfortunately.

    Valerie in reply to m1. | May 13, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    If all you can get out of an unsentimental look at the facts and applicable law in this case is the skin color of the prosecutor, you are never going to understand the outcome.

    I am not a lawyer but I know enough. I am not an American citizen but I am Australian.

    Reading the facts of the case as they have been released, I think that Mosby has overcharged because of her own zealotry towards the #blacklivesmatter crowd.

    There is little in the way of evidence to back up these charges, especially the charges laid against the black police officers and especially Sgt White.

    You are way off base in your comments.

    TX-rifraph in reply to m1. | May 14, 2015 at 4:53 am

    M1, you appear to be a product of the modern public “education” system where you learned to use concepts to filter the facts rather than use logic to follow the facts.

    Your thinking sounds a lot like what I heard from the KKK (That militant Democrat institution except you flip the races) when I was a young: See everything through the filter of race and discard the facts that do not fit the narrative. I suspect you do not even see that you do this thus what read here at LI makes no sense to you. You should get a refund from your college.

    annav in reply to m1. | May 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I don’t think people are bothered as much as bemused by the rookie mistakes and disgusted by the unseemly, self-aggrandizing personal promotion. As for doing her job, I wasn’t aware that ineptitude is part of the job description.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I believe that part if this announcement is a motion about what Mosby presents to a GJ?

Hey M1. What is more important to you? The State Attorney’s race or her competence?

And why do you hate Black cops?

Sammy Finkelman | May 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

There’s one thing that can be said for Marilyn Mosby.

She appears to have (much more?) distorted the law, rather than the facts. That might even apply to the knife.

Many counts in the indictments could even be dismissed.

Perhaps a defense attorney ought to hope Ms. Mosby, a young inexperienced prosecutor, remains on the case. Why would any defense attorney want the best, most experienced prosecutor going after his client when he could have this one?

Henry Hawkins | May 13, 2015 at 5:18 pm

IANAL… If the ham sandwich analogy is banal and outdated, what about turkey sandwiches? Are they difficult to indict?

    Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 13, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Dark meat or white? Can I ask that…???

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I was wondering if the cheese or other condiments matter, myself. Is Provolone more so than Colby? Of course there is always the “with mayo” defense!

    amwick in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I had considered suggesting a Panini, but it seemed somehow disrespectful. So I won’t mention it.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to amwick. | May 13, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Panini sounds sort of minority-ish, so you must be a bigot.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to amwick. | May 14, 2015 at 12:01 am

      It IS disrespectful. Leave the dagoes out of it. They do stuff better than anybody else – food, chocolate, cheese, wine, sausage, textiles, all design, clothing, leather goods, jewelry, art, sculpture, ceramics, architecture, cars, guns, woodwork, hair, singers (better tenors than the Irish), composers, musical instruments – you name it, they do it best (I’ll allow that the Brits and the French make fine cheese, Brits are great musicians and woodcrafters, French and Argentinians are great dancers, and the French and Californians make fine wine). No others need apply.

      But Italians have it all. They’ve got STYLE!

State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby says she is not surprised by the onslaught of criticism over her decision to charge six officers in the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray. Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/1d3c66L

Gremlin1974 | May 16, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Basically just an older model.

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