Judge dismisses concerns that riots, unprecedented civil settlement could bias jury pool
Just minutes ago Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams denied the defense motion brought on behalf of the six police officers charged int the death of Freddie Gray to have their trials held outside the city of Baltimore, reports CBS Baltimore and other news sources.
— Digital Newsroom (@Morgan_SGJCDNR) September 10, 2015
The officers’ lawyers had argued that it would be impossible to select an unbiased jury in the city, because jurors would be very much aware that anything but a guilty verdict could lead to a resurgence of the riots and looting that occurred last April following Gray’s serious injury while in police custody.
Prosecutors, in turn, argued that making a decision now to change venue was premature, as it was impossible to know the sentiments of prospective jurors until they had been subject to voir dire and asked about the matter.
This rationale would not, of course, prevent the seating of biased prospective jurors who are willing to lie their way onto the jury, as was observed during jury selection for the George Zimmerman trial: “Zimmerman Prosp. Juror E7: “no conclusions,” but posted on pro-Trayvon, anti-Zimmerman site containing threat against Zimmerman.”
Another factor contributing to possible taint in the Baltimore jury pool was the unprecedented civil settlement of $6.4 million by the city of Baltimore to the family of Freddie Gray. On this subject I strongly encourage you read Professor Jacobson’s insightful, post from Tuesday, “Mischievous motive behind Baltimore settlement with Freddie Gray family?” which references analysis by third-party legal experts and also includes embedded video featuring Judge Napolitano from Fox News.
It is worth keeping in mind that this settlement was agreed to by the city before there has been any adjudication of wrongdoing by the officers involved in Gray’s arrest, and indeed without any publicly available evidence indicating the commission of any unlawful act by any of the six officers.
Despite such concerns, however, Judge Williams has now ruled that the six separate trials for the officers will be held in the City of Baltimore.
Keep tuned here for further developments in this case.
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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