Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals (the state’s intermediate appellate court) has issued a last minute order (embedded at the bottom of this post) staying the trial of van driver Officer Caesar Goodson, for which jury selection was to begin today, reports the Baltimore Sun. The purpose of this stay is to allow first for the resolution of a separate matter: whether Police Officer William Porter could be compelled to testify in Goodson’s despite the fact that Porter is awaiting his own re-trial.
For further details see last Friday’s Freddie Gray Case: Appellate Court Puts Hold On Officer’s Compelled Testimony, which has embedded a number of the relevant motions and orders.
This morning’s last minute stay was issued by Chief Judge Peter Krauser, who last Friday also issued an order halting trial Judge Barry Williams’ order that Porter be compelled to testify in Goodson’s trial.
The Baltimore Sun reports that in this morning’s order Chief Judge Krauser wrote that it was “presumably in the interests of all parties” that Porter’s appeal be resolved prior to the start of Goodson’s trial. This is in contradiction to both Goodson’s and Porter’s legal counsel, however, who objected to a separate motion by state prosecutors for a continuance on his client’s trial. (See the State’s motion for the continuance and Porter’s reply to that motion at the bottom of this post.) The State’s motion for a continuance is now moot, given Chief Judge Krauser’s stay.
State prosecutors have long claimed Officer Porter as a material witness in the Goodson trial, and they planned to bring him to the stand to testify in Goodson’s trial whether they obtained a hoped for conviction of Porter in his own earlier trial or whether Porter was acquitted. In either instance Porter’s criminal liability would have been finally adjudicated (except, arguably, for prospective federal charges).
In the event, however, Porter’s trial ended in a hung jury, and the state immediately announced their intention to re-try the officer. Under these circumstances Porter naturally decided that he would assert his 5th Amendment right to decline to testify on the grounds that his testimony might incriminate him for purposes of both future state and federal prosecution.
The state then issued a subpoena to compel Porter’s testimony, Porter sought to quash the subpoena, and trial Judge Barry Williams sided with the state and ordered that Porter would be compelled to testify. This resulted in Porter appealing Williams’ order to the Court of Special Appeals, which stayed the order, followed by this morning’s stay of Goodson’s trial.
Never before in Maryland legal history has a prospective defendant been compelled to testify while still awaiting trial.
Here’s today’s order from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals staying Goodson’s trial:
Here’s the State’s motion for a continuance of Goodson’s trial, filed last Friday:
Here’s the response of Porter’s legal counsel to the State’s motion above, also filed last Friday:
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