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Freddie Gray Case: Judge rules trials stay in Baltimore

Freddie Gray Case: Judge rules trials stay in Baltimore

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.

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.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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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Comments

Well, that should grant at least one reason for appeal, if the verdict is guilty.

    Estragon in reply to Loren. | September 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Not sure what Maryland law allows, but finding 84 unbiased jurors (assuming 2 alternates per jury) is not going to be easy. People who would be fair will be moving Heaven and Earth to avoid serving, fearing for their personal safety and property in the event of an unpopular outcome.

    Maybe the judge will wise up and move them later.

    This is the price of turning the city over to the mob.

The ‘fix’ is in….

Voir dire will provide MANY, MANY opportunities for error on appeal.

I would look for perhaps a few “busted panels”, meaning that the venire panel (all potential jurors) can’t provide a jury panel because they are so prejudiced against the defendants (or state).

    Yep!

    One would have thought the judge would have considered the time and expense involved in dragging out the “filtering” voir dire (~”It’s only taxpayer money!~), and more importantly, the unjust bias surrounding the LEOs involved!

    FG trial Voir dire?:

    Do you watch the TV/cable news? Do you watch Fox News?

    Do you live in Baltimore in or near the area affected by the subsequent riots?

    Have you received compensation from the city or from anyone for the damages to your store, to your property?

    Can you arrive at an impartial objective verdict?

    Multiplied by six juries, as well as witnesses testifying in multiple court appearances and giving somewhat/wildly different testimony in each one.

    It’s going to be an interesting few months. Or years.

These Cops are so #$%^ed

    Ragspierre in reply to EBL. | September 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    What’s your prediction as to the ultimate outcome…I mean besides “xyz are screwed”.

    ANY faith in our system? ANY plans to let due process work?

      We will see, I hope you are right. I think my skepticism of fair trials in Baltimore is warranted.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | September 10, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      “We will see” is not a prediction. Whether warranted or not, you skepticism isn’t a prediction, either.

      IF you think the officers are screwed, say so, and make a clear prediction.

      Me? I believe in the system generally. I give the officers a 3:1 chance of NOT being found criminally liable under any felony charge (through appeal). I also predict they will not be found guilty of any serious misdemeanor.

        forksdad in reply to Ragspierre. | September 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        Win or lose they still lose by being dragged through this process. A process that should never in a sane world have happened.

        How long will they have to spend in ‘Ad Seg’ in a prison? Will that still protect them? Will guards force them into ‘recreating’ with other Ad Seg inmates or even into gen pop?

        They’ll last as long as Jeffery Dahmer in gen pop. Will they be allowed to remain free on bond pending trial? Who’s going to pay for all their expenses? Who’s paying the bills now?

        You get charged with murder regardless of how it ends if you were innocent you were screwed.

        Rags, with all due respect, have you been paying attention? You have an obviously biased prosecutor and a jury pool that is definitely inflamed. I will assume the judge is fair (reports are he is a good judge) but how this all plays out at trial remains to be seen. Perhaps the Judge is thinking it is premature to move the trial out of Baltimore until he sees how the jury voir dire goes (that is what the prosecution argued). I am definitely not feeling good if I am one of these accused.

          Ragspierre in reply to EBL. | September 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

          Wul, yuh. Duh.

          I’ve made my prediction. Where is yours?

          Since you want a prediction rags, I predict these cops won’t get a fair trial (I hope and pray I am wrong). With the evidence I have seen they never should have been charged (certainly not with the charges they got). But I hope they do get a fair trial, that the judge properly controls the process, that the juries in each trial are fair and open minded, and ultimately the cases turn on admissible evidence (which none of us have fully seen yet, so it is premature to be making predictions beyond what I just said).

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | September 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm

        I’ll take this one Rags. I actually have 2 predictions.

        1)I will say 5 complete acquittals, with the Driver of the paddy wagon being found guilty of some mid to high level misdemeanor.

      siguiriya in reply to Ragspierre. | September 10, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      Speaking of faith in the system — if the public statements of the prosecutor, the massive publicity, the riots, and the extraordinary settlement are insufficient to justify a change of venue, then what WOULD be sufficient?

      Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | September 10, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      I think they will all get off for lack of evidence. With any sense of justice based on the evidence as we know it to date, the judge should not even let any case go to the jury, certainly not on the serious charges.

      The judge should dismiss them with prejudice after the prosecution rests, then announce his retirement to Arizona, effective immediately.

        Milhouse in reply to Estragon. | September 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm

        That’s a very good point. If the judge is fair, and if the prosecution’s case is as deficient as we all expect it to be, then it shouldn’t matter how biased the jury is, because it won’t get to them. Maybe that’s what the judge has in mind.

          “Maybe that’s what the judge has in mind.”

          If this judge is a professional and impartial, then he has not pre-judged this. If the case has the amount of evidence we expect (near zero) then it is certainly the expected outcome.

          OTOH, this is Baltimore. I expect nothing sane to occur.

    I might add that the cops are not only (censored) if they’re found guilty, but also if they’re found not guilty. Their legal bills will all have two commas in them from one comma incomes, their names will make them targets every day they’re out in public, and even if exonerated, they’ll never get another job to pay back the staggering legal bills they accumulate.

    The mob demands blood.

      Ragspierre in reply to georgfelis. | September 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Well, I dunno. You got any links showing any proof of that?

      Gremlin1974 in reply to georgfelis. | September 10, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      It is my understanding that in these cases most of the time the cops are represented by lawyers that are paid by the FOP, I could be totally wrong. Also, if the defendant is found not guilty can’t they demand that the city pay their costs?

It looks like the city officials took BLM’s suggesting when they were chanting “No Justice.”

For those of you knowledgeable in MD criminal procedure, what are the expected sequence of steps from here? Are there any time limits?

This article discusses Maryland law for changing the venue of a non-capital criminal trial and a relevant case Simms v State. Based on what I have read, it is much easier in Maryland to change the venue of a civil trial or a capital case than a non-capital criminal trial. http://cjbrownlaw.com/will-baltimore-police-get-new-venue/

Char Char Binks | September 10, 2015 at 12:53 pm

No surprise.

These charges have been meant to fail from the very beginning. The left WANTS riots and unrest in the streets. Mark my words, when these cops walk, the nation will remember the Rodney King riots as the good ole days

    Milhouse in reply to gwsjr425. | September 10, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Yes, exactly. Mosby’s strategy from the beginning has not been to get convictions but to get acquittals, as close as she can to next year’s rioting season. The ultimate purpose is to get black voters to turn out in November 2016 in the numbers they did in 2008 and 2012. Little Saint Trayvon did the job in 2012. They all turned out to reelect 0bama, for fear that Romney would have thenm all gunned down or something.

    Having separate trials helps Mosby, by dragging this out longer, so the black rage at the acquittals will be fresh next November.

Maybe the defense’s best strategy is a bench trial. Fewer individuals to be intimidated by the mob, and the judge gets police protection
See the article at WBAL.com http://tinyurl.com/p6z8zy5 for quotes from a self-styled “social activist” with the mob outside the court house.
Maybe the defendants should be taken to trial in tumbrils so that the mob can taunt them and pelt them with rotten vegetables.

It’s a lynching that they want, and it’s a lynching they will have.

Of course the trials will be held in Baltimore, I mean the city just paid 6 million for 6 guilty verdicts. Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if the judge had allowed the change?

So from what I am understanding the defense can ask for a change of venue again, later?

Also, I hope the defense has a huge jury selection team, because remember this will mean 6 different jury selections, not just one jury selection.

    Ragspierre in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 10, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    “So from what I am understanding the defense can ask for a change of venue again, later?”

    Yes. Several times.

    “Also, I hope the defense has a huge jury selection team…”

    There are six defense counsel. If they all throw in on a single REALLY GOOD jury consultant (which would be smart), they only need ONE.

    Really good jury consultants are like wizards/witches. They can read people in remarkable ways.

    Cat Bennett was legendary, and was struck down by cancer in her prime. Her techniques live on with Robert B. Hirschhorn, her husband. But he’s not the Lone Ranger.

      Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | September 10, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      But the real test is if the judge will sit there and let one person after another lie to get on the jury. It is not always so obvious – even with a gypsy jury consultant, the judge isn’t privy to the tea leaves and micro-cues.

        Ragspierre in reply to Estragon. | September 10, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        It’s the job of the respective counsel to show the judge that a challenge for cause…of which they have in illimitable number…is well-founded.

        THIS is where you invite a trial judge to make reversible error, and THEY know it.

        BEHIND that, if some juror is really a stinker, you have one of your peremptive challenges.

        But here’s the funny thing…WHEN you’ve identified a prejudiced juror via voir dire, OC does NOT want to fight for that juror too hard. They don’t want the trial tainted, though they’d be delighted to have that juror on the panel if you HADN’T highlighted them, and created a record for appeal.

I can’t wait to read the judges written decision, that is if it is made public.

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm

When you have a trial which commands the interest of a large amount of the public, you will see the judge make adverse rulings for one side and then cause the supporters of that side to scream “biased”. Well words to that affect, but more crude. They neglect to take into account that the ruling is correct, or that the judge makes mistakes too,

Instead of just creaming bias at the first ruling i don’t like, I wait and see. Usually for a ruling which has to indicate bias. This is that kind of ruling.

If this trial does not now merit change of venue, then no trial does. Since courts have recognized the concept for a long time, it means that they feel some trial do merit. Logically this trial does.
The only way the judge could have reached this decision is if he was severely biased.

If I was the defense, myu appeal would be filed at the soonest moment.

I think they will either go with Porter or Goodsen first, the cases against the first four are rather weak. The murder by ommision idea she has come up with would probably work best with those two. My prediction is possible one guilty there if remains in Baltimore. The other 4 very very flimsy unless she’s got something we don’t know about. This other unindicted officer makes me. If it stays in Baltimore ,then I see overturned on appeal. The real question is can they survive the trial without a lynching and does the lynching have to stay in Baltimore.

    Char Char Binks in reply to dmi60ex. | September 13, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    There is NO case against ANY of the officers, so Mosby will have to pick some criterion other than merit to decide which to try first.

    Char Char Binks in reply to dmi60ex. | September 13, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Probably Goodson first. If they can’t get him convicted of at least SOMETHING, they probably can’t get anyone. I suppose they could start with White, since she was the second-most senior, was called specifically to check on reported police misconduct, spoke to the back of Gray’s head, got no response, and declined to summon medical attention, despite the fact that he obviously needed it AT SOME POINT, and since not finding her guilty probably won’t hurt their case against the others as much, but getting ANY conviction could help get more. It’s so hard to predict in a case that is so unrelated to fact and law.

Other unindicted officer makes me “wonder”sorry missed that

Every cop who touched Freddie prior to placing him in the Paddie Wagon will be found not guilty. Look at the video. Freddie is walking upright and does not appear to be in any distress.

This leaves poor Officer Caesar S. Goodson, Jr., the “Fall Guy.” It’s just a damn shame for the BLM crowd that Caesar is Black.

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Gremlin http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/walter-scott-shooting/michael-slager-cop-who-killed-walter-scott-will-have-wait-n425206

Since he was denied bail before, I think the judge giving it consideration must be think there is some chance that Slager gets off.

I think he still has a lonmg slog, but the prosecution can help him a lot by making arguments like: “he developed a heart that was bent on mischief.”

    I understand that all unarmed black men who die after coming into contact with white law enforcement officers look alike to you, but Walter Scott and Freddie Gray were actually two separate people, in two different states, and represent two separate and distinct cases.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Amy in FL. | September 11, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Amy, I don’t see where he was comparing the 2 cases or got confused and mixed up facts about the 2 cases. Both cases were being discussed in the comments, so I fail to see why you are upset?

        Both cases were being discussed in the comments

        No, they weren’t.

        The above comment by Mouse on this post about the Freddie Gray case was the only comment on this post about the Freddie Gray case which brought up Michael Slager. Michael Slager killed an entirely different black man, you see? In an entirely different state. In entirely different circumstances.

        I’m not upset in the slightest; it just seemed like a very weird segue.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Amy in FL. | September 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm

          Ahh, I see what happened, Mouse was replying here to a comment I made on a different thread, so to me it was a continuation of our discussion from the Professor’s article a couple of days ago. We were discussing the Slager case there. That’s why it was so confusing but made perfect sense to me, lol.

Is there any chance the judge’s reasoning was that Everybody in Maryland has heard loads about this, and moving the trial would only move it to another part of the state, where yes, people have heard about it? Of course other parts of the state might be ready to vote for acquittal even before the defense presents their case.

    Milhouse in reply to Milwaukee. | September 11, 2015 at 1:03 am

    It’s not a matter of Baltimore veniremen having heard about it and others not, it’s a matter of Baltimore veniremen being afraid to acquit because they would personally suffer from the resulting riots, whereas those elsewhere would not be personally affected by the riots.

      A lot of Zimmerman supporters suggested that, given the even more vitriolic rhetoric surrounding his killing of Trayvon Martin (plus Florida’s open records laws which would reveal the full names of the jurors after trial), the local jury pool had been poisoned and jurors would be afraid to acquit for fear of riots, personal targeting, assassination by the Black Panthers, etc.

      But it didn’t happen, and justice was served. Let us similarly hope that justice will be served in Baltimore.

Just a quick follow-up on jury consultants…

Two of their most important functions are—

1. identify the opinion leader(s) on the panel, and

2. identify what they think is important

With that information, the trial advocates shape their presentations.

Even if the judge is impartial…
Even if the Baltimore 6 get off…
The damage has been done. These police officers, nay the entire force, will have been forever ruined and jaded by a corrupt process that is so ingrained in this corrupt city.
It’s clear from the post-riot reaction of the police to crime in the city. The reaction is to do what the Mayor said… Let it burn. Keep your nose clean. Because of this, crime has skyrocketed, and it’s not going to get any better until the Mayor and SA are gone.

This reminds me of trials against police in the Bronx, where the hatred of cops by the populace has been known for 50 years.

Go through the Voir dire process, and if they don’t like the jury that is taking shape, dismiss the jury and go with a trial from the bench.

LMAO, apparently today the Mayor announced that she has decided not to run for re-election, but assures people it has nothing to do with the riots and all that nasty stuff. Interesting since she had already started her campaign for re-election.

I am just amazed that nothing seems like it can done to deal with the possibility that these officers may get railroaded. I am numb that this is being allowed. It’s maddening. Just when I hope that things won’t get worse for the officers, it does.

1. Let these cops get the same zealous Maryland prosecuting that Detective Joseph Walker got.
2.Amy in Fl. You should know that when go against the LI modus operandi of defending white killers of black people,you will get vitriol.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to m1. | September 12, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Remember, Mom like 2 dryer sheets, for extra softness!

    Char Char Binks in reply to m1. | September 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I supported Walker when he was accused of murdering Harvey, but I got no vitriol here. Maybe because, unlike you, I’m not a racist jackass (or at least not AS MUCH of a racist jackass as you).

My prediction, with a better than 50% confidence – Caesar, the driver, and the three white cops will be found guilty, and the other two blacks will get off. This “verdict” should keep the Baltimore rioters at bay, and that’s the goal of this entire farce, isn’t it?

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