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Freddie Gray Trial VERDICT WATCH: Jury Reports It Is Hung

Freddie Gray Trial VERDICT WATCH: Jury Reports It Is Hung

Jury tells Judge Williams they cannot arrive at a verdict; Judge sends them back to try again

UPDATE (5:37PM, 12/15/15): That’s it for today, folks. No verdict, and jury sent home for the night. Deliberations start up again in the morning.

UPDATE (4:01PM, 12/15/15): In a shocking statement, trial Judge William Barry told the hung jury to “Compromise if you can do so without violence to your own moral judgement,” according to reporting by ABC News.

Such a statement coming from a trial judge is shocking because “compromise verdicts” in criminal cases are anathema to American concepts of jurisprudence and due process.

Each juror is sworn to vote for a guilty verdict on a charge only if they honestly believe that each and every element of that charge has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If they do not so honestly believe this to be the case for a given charge, they are sworn to vote not guilty on that charge. Period.

This lies at the core of the legal mandate that the defendant has the presumption of innocence.

There is no proper room for compromise in such a judicial framework.

While it is true that criminal trial jurors do from time to time arrive at so-called compromise verdicts, such instances are considered defects in the judicial system, not legitimate outcomes.

If ever there were grounds for reversal of any conviction, this is it.

At 3:40PM the jury in the “Freddie Gray” trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter sent out a note to Judge Williams that they were deadlocked.

As is normal in such cases the Judge essentially just told them to try again. It’s reported that he re-read the jury charges to them prior to sending them back into deliberations, also normal.

There was no word on whether he also read them an Allen charge, named after the 1896 Supreme Court case in which they first approved the instruction (Allen v. United States, 164 US 492).

The Allen charge is a jury instruction used specifically in such circumstances in which the jury reports they cannot arrive at a unanimous verdict. It essentially reminds the jury of all the resources and time that have been put into this trial, notes that another jury is unlikely to be better suited to reaching a verdict than they are, and tells them to get their act together, get back into the jury room, and come back with a verdict, darn it!

Keep your eyes here for further updates as they develop.

–-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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I’m sure the judge is pissed because he committed so many appealable errors that there’s no way he’s going to be allowed to oversee this case again.

He was planning on a guilty verdict reversed on appeal to try and force the other cops to plead. Instead he just looks either incompetent or corrupt and can’t even get a verdict.

    Milhouse in reply to Olinser. | December 15, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    His behaviour is equally compatible with a charitable interpretation: that he was hoping all along for an acquittal, which would demonstrate that the defense was panicking for nothing, and that the Baltimore venire was capable of doing justice. Remember if the jury acquits there will be nothing to appeal and he will go down in the records as the prescient judge who knew what he was doing.

      Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | December 15, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Well, I wrote that before the update about the judge’s call for jurors to compromise. In light of that I have to go back and reconsider everything he’s done since day one. A judge capable of saying that has forfeited any right to charitable interpretation of his decisions. He’s forfeited his right to sit on the bench.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Milhouse. | December 15, 2015 at 5:46 pm

        Same here. I had though that even though I disagreed with his decisions he still handn’t injected what I consider to be bias into any of his decisions. This changes that. Not only should he be thrown off of the bench but he should be disbarred.

      Char Char Binks in reply to Milhouse. | December 15, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      “Behaviour” with a U? What are you, Canadian?

What a surprise said no one. Would they provide stats to the judge or just say that are hung.

The chants from the BLM crowd did get to some of the jurors.

@Andrew — Has “His Honor” given the jury an Allen Charge yet?

The big question is how the jury is deadlocked.

Are the few holdouts trying to get a guilty sentence despite the evidence or a few folks who will not convict on what is presented.

I have my guesses.

I’m gonna speculate and say that there are a couple holdouts for conviction.

    Estragon in reply to myiq2xu. | December 16, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Doubt that. Usually if there are only 2-3 guilty votes, they will see the handwriting on the wall & give in right after dinner is served.

“Compromise if you can do so without violence to your own moral judgement,” Williams said.

Huh, wha???

Compromise on a case that is supposed to be beyond a reasonable doubt?

Gee who would have thought the jury might decide to punt. This whole process has been a disgrace from day 1.

All along, this case has been about throwing these officers to the lions in order calm the city. The prosecution knew the case was weak. Frankly, if this wasn’t a Baltimore jury, concerned their city and perhaps their own homes may burn without a guilty verdict, an acquittal probably would have been delivered.
Given the weakness of the case and the reason it was brought (calm the city), I have a strong suspicion that Officer Porter going first was in furtherance of that goal.
As a black officer, his acquittal will be far less contentious than if a white officer were acquitted. It’s a way to let Baltimore down easy. And, it just might work. This trial hasn’t gotten all that much media attention and the protesters number in the dozens (not thousands). There is a good chance we see some protests and sporadic violence with an acquittal, but nothing too serious.
I’d be more worried about a conviction. The entire BPD will call out the next day with the “blue flu”.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to phiremin. | December 16, 2015 at 3:15 am

    It won’t matter to the savages whether the jury convicts or not. If they don’t, the savages will riot and loot. If they do convict, which I’m quite certain they will, it won’t be enough to soothe the savage breast. They will loot and riot anyway.

I wonder if the city of Baltimore bothered to check if any of the jurors had criminal backgrounds? I can only imagine several cop haters that were sent up, sitting on this jury.

Compromise and acquit, even though they threatened to burn down your house? Seems surprising to me that the jurors went home each night. I guess they’d report threats, but snitches get stitches.

I’ll wager there is at least one juror who just wants to “send a message” to the cops that #BLM, even though this cop didn’t murder anyone.

“Compromise if you can do so without violence to your own moral judgement.”

That sounds weird — but it reads differently if you think about compromising on an acquittal vs compromising on a conviction.

I can see flipping from “guilty” to “not proven” without doing violence to my moral judgement. I can less easily see flipping *to* guilty when I thought the defendant might be innocent.

So, maybe he’s hoping for an actual acquittal — rather than the prospect of doing it all over again?

But then I’m just reading tea leaves third hand.

Also… from the link: “The jury has been charged with determining whether police officer William Porter contributed to Gray’s homicide.”

Wow. No “alleged”. That’s… oh, who am I kidding? This isn’t my shocked face at all.

Has anyone yet suggested that a GoPro in the back of every police van might be a good idea?

    Has anyone yet suggested that a GoPro in the back of every police van might be a good idea?

    “In fact, the van in which Freddie Gray was transported on April 12 did have a camera that the driver could use to monitor the passengers, but it was reportedly not working at the time.”

    Oops, right?

      You would not BELIEVE how often that is the case.

      We (here in Texas) actually have a requirement that in any county with a population over 300,000, the police are required to be equipped with dash-cams.

      With shocking regularity, the Police A.) actively turn them off (they are ALWAYS recording and start saving data from the point 30-seconds prior to the instant the rollers come on unless the officers actively turn off the power switches); B.) don’t report when they are broken; C.) fail to upload the footage, causing it to be over-written after about the 3rd shift.

      I’ve had no less than 6 cases over the past two years where I knew the officer was lying on the stand, but couldn’t prove it because the footage had not been recorded.

      One of the times I brought it up, one of the DA’s had the brass to complain about “how much data storage was required to keep all that information.” I (very politely) told him to take it up with the Legislature.

      I’ve since made it part of every case I have to demand any dashcam footage, make a suppression motion on testimony when it doesn’t exist and to question any of Officers on their competence when they say “my car was broken” or “I didn’t save it because it didn’t seem important.”

        “make a suppression motion on testimony when it doesn’t exist and to question any of Officers on their competence when they say “my car was broken” or “I didn’t save it because it didn’t seem important.”

        The latter argument doesn’t seem so compelling to me–the individual officer who shows up for a shift has to do the shift whether or not the dash cam or whatever is broken. Or explain to his wife why he got fired.

        The former argument is of more interest, however.

        How often are you successful at getting testimony suppressed in the absence of a working dash cam?

        After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t even HAVE dash cams, and the cop’s testimony was perfectly admissible THEN.

        Do today’s non-operable dash cams suddenly make the cop’s testimony inadmissible? That seems weird to me.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t even HAVE dash cams, and the cop’s testimony was perfectly admissible THEN.

          “After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t even HAVE dash cams DNA analysis, and the cop’s alleged victim’s testimony was perfectly admissible THEN.” —Nifong, explaining why it’s no big deal that the DNA evidence (which was later found to have exculpated the Duke Lacrosse boys) got “lost” and why it was perfectly cromulent just to depend solely on Crystal Mangum’s testimony instead.

          So, yeah. Not as a lawyer here obviously, but as a layman: mysteriously (and conveniently?) “malfunctioning” audio and visual systems which result in a loss of hard evidence and having instead to take the word of people who have good reason to lie in order to protect themselves, can look a little suss.

          Kind of like how there were eight cop cars present when Officer Van Dyke gunned down Laquan McDonald, all were fitted with audio-visual recording systems, and each of the cars’ audio recording capabilities sadly suffered “unspecified technical problem” at exactly the same time. Sure! That could totally happen! But…. really?

          Bottom line, again to a layman: If cops aren’t doing anything wrong, they should *want* their equipment working, so that they can easily defend themselves against unfounded claims. What’s that famous law enforcement supporter line again? “If you didn’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to hide…?”

          “all were fitted with audio-visual recording systems, and each of the cars’ audio recording capabilities sadly suffered “unspecified technical problem” at exactly the same time. ”

          I’m not aware of ANYBODY who claims that all the recording units suffered failures “at exactly the same time.” If you’ve ever spent time in a cruiser you’d know that many of them are not particularly well-maintained, especially the secondary systems, like cameras. Those can fail, but still allow the officer to go out on patrol. And so the officer IS still sent out on patrol. The cameras in the various vehicles could each of broken independently at various times over the preceding weeks and months and simply never been repaired.

          ” If cops aren’t doing anything wrong, they should *want* their equipment working”

          The patrol officers themselves are neither tasked nor qualified nor allowed to maintain the patrol vehicles or the secondary equipment attached to it. I expect they would very much like their vehicles to be fully operational and well-maintained, but THEY don’t control that.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        None of which is to suggest that you ought not challenge the evidence. I’d do so, as well. Really just wondering how effective that’s turning out for you.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Char Char Binks in reply to clintack. | December 15, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    The “compromise” could go either way. It could be eleven to one and the one could “compromise” or the eleven could. In reality, there’s no compromise vote at all; for each charge its guilty or not. Each juror should use reason as best he can and vote his conscience.

Char Char Binks | December 15, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Maybe it’s a standoff between those who think he’s not guilty because he’s black and those who think he’s guilty because he’s a cop.

This whole mess has been a clown show from the get-go. It’s really been disheartening to watch.

@ Andrew

Am I wrong in thinking that to me the defense should be throwing a fit over the “compromise verdict” statements by the judge?

Can they challenge that in a higher court and make him tell the jury to ignore that instruction? Or do you think they are just waiting to see the verdict and already have the appeal mostly written to submit immediately if there is a conviction?

LOL, I notice that Rags still hasn’t made a comment on the Compromise verdict thing. He is probably still trying to get himself under control, lol.

    Ragspierre in reply to Gremlin1974. | December 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Quite true, Grem.

    Every jury instruction I’ve heard read in CIVIL trial essentially forbids a “compromise verdict”. Even on stuff like damages.

    The idea that this judge is suggesting one in a criminal matter is an outrage.

Williams told jurors to reach a compromise if they can do so “without violence to your individual judgment”.

Washington Post:
Judge Barry G. Williams told them to continue trying to reach a unanimous verdict without compromising their own individual judgment.

Baltimore Sun does not have any statement.

So it may not be so clear cut.


    HandyGandy in reply to HandyGandy. | December 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Oh man. I accidentally thumbs downed myself!

    I have a few of questions.

    In the event of a hung jury, can the judges rulings be appealed before a retrial?

    If the ABC report is true, is there a thing as mistrial due to judicial misconduct? Similar to mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct? Meaning that jeopardy is attached and they cannot retry,

    If there is a mistrial, can they juggle the schedule so that Porter’s retrial comes before the other trials, or are they stuck now?

    Char Char Binks in reply to HandyGandy. | December 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    You make a ood point. The accounts in the articles don’t match, and I wonder if his Williams was misquoted or misinterpreted.

    It’s certainly possible, given the room temperature IQ of most journalists, that not understanding the legal relevance of the word “compromise” in the context of a jury verdict the journalist in this case “paraphrased” what Judge Williams said into something legally repulsive, when in fact his actual words were not.

    That would certainly explain defense counsel not exploding in the court room.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      jlronning in reply to Andrew Branca. | December 15, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Two of my sons sat on murder trial juries this year in Baltimore. The first one resulted in guilty, first degree murder. In the second one, the jury was “hung” between first and second degree; eventually, in order to get a conviction, those favoring first degree went down to second. Not ideal, but certainly better than compromising in the other direction!

        “Compromising” on a lesser included is entirely different than compromising on some independent verdict.

        If half the jurors are convinced of murder 2, and half are convinced of murder 1, then those convinced of murder 1 were ALREADY convinced of murder 2 in order to get to murder 1 in the first place.

        In that case, in fact EVERY juror genuinely believed that the defendant HAD been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of murder 2, it’s just that half of them also thought they could get to murder 1. That makes murder 2 a perfectly legitimate verdict.

        That’s entirely different than if half the jurors believe the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter, half believe he’s guilty of no more than misconduct in office (which is NOT a lesser included of involuntary manslaughter) and they “compromise” on second degree assault.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefenes

On the plus side:


HandyGandyOn the plus side:


Never underestimate the spirit of ” can do ” , that is part of the American spirit . remember he who hesitates is lost ( mainly the 72 inch models )

How do you spell “reversible error”? W-I-L-L-I-A-M B-A-R-R-Y.

What would be the result if it were found that the jurors that voted guilty were pressured to do so by Mosby in a jury tampering scandal?

ugottabekiddinme | December 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm

“trial Judge William Barry told the hung jury to ‘Compromise if you can do so without violence to your own moral judgement,'”

Remind me — isn’t this the case where the trial judge, before appointment to the bench, had a practice that specialized in suing the police?

Still betting that Mosby is paying each juror $1000 a day to withhold a verdict until a REALLY BIG snowstorm shows up.. Alas, GLOBULL WARMING has reduced that possibility for some weeks.

1) Does anyone have access to the Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions? There should be a pattern jury instruction to be read to a potentially hung jury. It would be nice to know what the recommended/proper/bulletproof language is and be able to compare that to what was reportedly said.

2) What is the racial composition of the jury? Wanna bet the split is similar? I know we don’t like to talk about it, but the racial division in criminal juries is an ugly truth. I haven’t practiced for quite a while, but it was a serious problem when I left. The situation is not improving.

    (1) I’m sure I have them in the office, but what’s the point when we don’t know what instructions were actually given to the jury? Nothing to compare them to.

    (2) four black women, three black men, three white women and two white men

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Because there should be a standard instruction to be read to a hung jury. We could then compare the standard to what has been reported and determine if/how far the court veered from the standard. What is difficult to understand about that? How is relying on uncertain reporting of the court’s instruction any different from relying upon similarly uncertain reporting of the evidence received?

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Anonamom. | December 16, 2015 at 2:19 am

        It doesn’t matter what the standard instruction says, Juries are bound by the instructions that they are given. Those instructions are agreed to by both the Prosecution and Defense, as well as the bench.

        Letting them “compare” instructions would only cause confusion, and possibly lead to abhorrent jury decisions.

          Anonamom in reply to Gremlin1974. | December 16, 2015 at 11:12 am

          No, it does matter. The pattern jury instructions are favored by the appellate courts. Any deviation increases the odds of a later reversal.

          Anonamom in reply to Gremlin1974. | December 16, 2015 at 11:14 am

          I did not suggest that the jurors should be comparing instructions. My suggestion applies to commentators.

          (Hit send too quickly. Sorry for posting twice.)

        If we had the ACTUAL jury instructions in this case, it would be interesting to compare them to the model jury instructions.

        But we don’t, and I’m not willing to take the time to make the same effort with how “journalists” have reported the jury instructions. The prospects of a “journalist” reporting jury instructions accurately approaches very close to zero. Pointless to compare the model jury instructions with incorrectly reported jury instructions.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

So what happens if the jury is only deadlocked on one of the counts, but has reached agreement on the others? Can the defendant be acquitted or convicted on the agreed upon charges and have a hung jury on the one charge that is not unanimous?

However,Tyler Testerman a white guy who shoots a Maryland LEO in the face Will have his day in court. Equal treatment under the law.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to m1. | December 15, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    As he well should.

    Also, I would like to say welcome back and thanks for joining us again. I look forward to once again being blinded by your candle bright insight and deafened by your blows at prose.

“Now I know what they mean by ‘a well-hung jury'”

Frankly when someone mentioned jury tampering, I believe the prosecution did witness tampering when Janice Bledsoe’s girlfriend managed to find Donta Allen when he was supposedly anonymous and got him to change his story on tv ,two days after rioting. He had been reported by WaPo as being 38 and listed under a different offense, yet the tv station just miracled his identity out of nowhere .

Just my best guess, but I would bet that a substantial majority is voting no convictions and a few hard-core ideologues are holding out for some conviction. This is based partly on the weakness of the prosecution case but also on the speed with which they came back declaring they were hung. Most quick verdicts (unless the evidence is overwhelming) are acquittals. If I were the defense, I would be hopeful, especially since the trial judge also just handed them a really strong appellate issue.

JackRussellTerrierist | December 16, 2015 at 3:03 am

I told ya’ guys. I told you it’s a tainted judge, tainted jury, and they were not going to acquit. Logic doesn’t enter into it.

I told ya’ there’s no way a cop is going to get real justice in Baltimore.

The evidence is such that this should have been a 2 hr. slam-dunk acquittal, but that was never going to happen.

Might the jury yet acquit? It’s always possible, but don’t hold your breath. The feral savages have the cops’ blood in the water and they’re not going to give up their catch.

Judge Barry has confirmed that his main concern in this case is to render a scape goat to the mob, not justice. As far as a reversal: lots of luck getting that from A Maryland higher court.

ugottabekiddinme The Judge’s expertise was in criminal prosecution of rogue police , the people quoted in the story gave mixed reviews of his biases.
IMO he’s either running this railroad down the line , in which case , he probably gets overturned , doesn’t care , or he is playing a very fine game of appearing to be tough on the police , but he knows this thing ain’t got a shot at conviction. In which case he’s gambling . We may never know . Even if overturned I can’t imagine there would be dire consequences in the Peoples Republic of Maryland with the Obama DOJ looking over their shoulder .


Hopefully there are a few who will hold out . The judge has a lot invested in this now , he may never let them leave . You never know .

Jury breaking for lunch

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense