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Freddie Gray: MD High Court Delays All Officer Trials

Freddie Gray: MD High Court Delays All Officer Trials

Issue is whether Officer William Porter can be compelled to testify against others.

Maryland’s Court of Appeals (the state’s highest-level “supreme court”) ruled yesterday that the trials of the Baltimore police officers charged in the Freddie Gray incident will be postponed while they decide whether one of those officers, William Porter, can be compelled to testify against the others.

We covered the legal issues in a prior posts:

The next officer to be tried was scheduled to be Officer Edward Nero, in whose case jury selection was to have begun this coming Monday.

The difficulty in this case, and an area of law without precedent in Maryland, arises because Porter remains vulnerable to criminal prosecution. Porter was the first of the officers to be tried, last fall, but the trial resulted in a hung jury without verdict, and prosecutors immediately stated they would retry the case.

Had Porter been either acquitted or convicted he would have been free of further prosecution (at least by the state of Maryland; he would, and does, remain vulnerable to prosecution on Federal charges). Absent the prospect of further prosecution the prospects for compelling his testimony in the trials of the other officers would have been far less complicated.

Prosecutors have said that Porter’s testimony is deemed essential to those other trials, and have long since announced that they consider him a material witness in those cases.

It is also the case that Maryland tends to be rather strict about requiring a speedy trial for criminal defendants, and criminal cases are rather routinely dismissed when a defendant’s right to a speedy trial is violated. This delay in the Baltimore officers’ trials is likely to raise substantive argument for their defense counsel that their client’s rights to a speedy trial are being violated and their charges should therefore be dismissed.

Keep your eyes here for ongoing coverage of the Freddie Gray trials.

–-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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Justice delayed is justice denied. But never mind – “Moms” Mosby needs to get a conviction before the Mayoral primary in order to boost her spouse’s election prospects.

Poor Sisyphus watches helplessly as another boulder rolls back down the hill . . .

As I understand it (correct me if wrong) even if Mr. Porter can be compelled to testify in state court with ‘limited’ immunity — the state can’t use his direct testimony to impeach him at his own trial — the Feds can certainly use it to impeach him at any federal proceeding. The Feds have not (and I should think) will not grant him anything.

Add to that the possibility that while the state can’t use his direct testimony, whatever he says will educate the prosecutors about the case. They’ll be that much more prepared to hammer him at his own trial.

So it seems that Mr. Porter is being put in exactly the position that the Fifth Amendment was designed to prevent: his own testimony will be used against him. I can’t imagine that the courts will let that happen in the end.

Any chance that IRS employees can be compelled to testify on their co-workers?

    They have all those “privacy” laws that keep them back.

    I’m surprised that William Porter hasn’t signed an NDA.
    They worked so well for the State Department.

Could the dismissal of the charges resulting from the lack of a speedy trial be just the “escape” Mosby needs to get off this train before the wreck? She could blame (pick your favorite excuse) just as Obama blames everyone and everything for his own failing actions while taking credit for his victories.

    Cat Herder in reply to TX-rifraph. | February 19, 2016 at 11:23 am

    That thought had crossed my mind, too. And on top of that, if the charges are dismissed, it will be the perfect excuse for more rioting.

So many Eeyores!

I see this a good evidence to take heart that the criminal legal system in Maryland (EVEN Maryland) is at least no going to let these officers get crushed by a political prosecutor.

From the judge on up, this is a case of first instance, and it seems to be being handled rather carefully.

    This action can easily make one believe that they repealed the 5th Amendment (or at least the 9th so they could attempt this contortion)

These delays are a disgrace. The machine that churns up black men is playing games to deny Justice for Freddie Grey. Black Lives apparently don’t matter.

Perhaps Obama will appoint one of the finest legal minds of this century, Ms. Mosby to the Supreme Court, so she can deliver justice from on high.

    There is no case against the officers because the did nothing wrong. the arrest was legal because the knife was illegal under Baltimore law and even if it wasn’t a mistaken arrest isn’t a crime. Freddie Gray committed suicide while in custody and their is no evidence the police helped him. The only reason the officers were charged is that the prosecuted is pandering to black criminal scum voters.

Why not avoid this issue by re-trying Porter next?

    dmi60ex in reply to Tank. | February 19, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Tank ,

    I think the administrative law Judge rescheduled Porters trial , not Judge Williams , if Judge williams had his say I’m sure Porter would have been scheduled before everyone else.

A correction to be made. The Prosecution has never indicated that Porter was crucial to the final three, From the start they have indicated his testimony was crucial for Goodson and Rice.

I think this is critical to the final three. The prosecution did not even indicate they would call Porter in the final three, until it became clear that they would be forced to try those cases first.

I understand that Judge Williams did not rule that Porter could not receive immunity in the final three, but that he could not testify because it would introduce needless delay. That and the fact Porter was if not a last minute addition, a last hour addition. To strain a metaphor. Immunity was moot.

I have to wonder if the Appeals Court is even aware of this. I’m sure it’s in the briefs but did they get that far?

I also have to wonder what happens if they decide that there is no reason for delaying Nero’s trial but it was their mistake so no harm. I wonder if Nero could appeal to federal court on speedy trial considerations and equal protection considerations.

M osby has indicated that she wants to try them all starting with Porter in June and the rest in September . I wonder if anyone else has noticed that Officers Tensing , Slager and Van Dyke are scheduled Oct 21 ,24, and 31 . Just in time for ( guess what happens ,) the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Even if there are delays , these cases will be in the news and if they go forward we could have verdicts right around election time.
All of these case are not as cut and dried as original observers noted , so we very well could have acquittals or significantly reduced charges .
Can we say riling up the voter base ?
Mosby will get a two fer , no trial before the April mayor primary

Do you really think that this judge will dismiss the charges simply because the prosecution arguably violated the defendants’ right to a speedy trial? This is the same judge who, despite the riots and protests being heard inside the courtroom during jury selection, ruled that the trials will be held in Baltimore. This is the same judge who violated Porter’s 5th amendment right and ordered the defendant to testify even though he faces retrial.

Why is the prosecution so sure that Potter’s testimony will help their case?

Mosby is sure Porter will help her case because it will cause delay. The delay helps her husbands political prospects and also can put the trial in the middle of the election year and rile upup the Democratic base nationwide. She has indicated she wants to try everyone after Porter in June. This would stretch the trials from around August September thru Dec. Can you imagine how acquittals will drive the liberals and AA community to the polls.

Shouldn’t this read: Freddy Gray Trials delayed so presecutor’s husband Nick Mosby can win the 2016 Baltimore Mayoral race?

Char Char Binks | February 22, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Mosby must be heartened by the conviction of Officer Liang in New York.

    It appears Liang shot and killed someone through the negligent handling of his service pistol.

    That OUGHT to result in an involuntary manslaughter conviction.

    Guns are serious business. People foreseeably die when they are handled negligently.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense