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Freddie Gray: Judge Denies Last-Minute Motion to Dismiss Goodson Charges

Freddie Gray: Judge Denies Last-Minute Motion to Dismiss Goodson Charges

Defense filed motion to dismiss charges based on repeated Brady violations by Prosecution

Minutes ago trial Judge Barry Williams denied a last minute motion to dismiss all charges by the defense team for van driver Police Officer Caesar Goodson.  Goodson is charged with murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in the death of Freddie Gray, and his bench trial begins today. Late yesterday the Baltimore Sun and other news outlets report that trial Judge Barry Williams would this morning first hear a motion dismiss all charges against Officer Goodson as a result of repeated prosecutorial misconduct.  That motion has now been denied.

Specifically, the motion filed by Goodson’s lawyers earlier this week (but under seal until yesterday) asked Judge Williams to dismiss the charges against their client on the grounds that the prosecution has repeatedly concealed from the defense exculpatory evidence. This follows on at least two prior incidents in the Freddie Gray trials in which prosecutors had similarly withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.

I have embedded the defense motion to dismiss at the bottom of this post. That motion also includes a transcription of the initial full interview with Donta Allen and detectives, in which he describe Freddie Gray’s movements in the van as extremely energetic. It’s worth the read.

Prosecutors have a legal duty to share with criminal defendants any exculpatory evidence upon which they might stumble in the course of their investigation. Violations of this duty are commonly referred to as Brady violations, named after the 1963 Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland which established this legal duty. The traditional remedy for a deliberate, or even accidental, failure to disclose such exculpatory evidence is dismissal of the criminal charges.

In this particular case, prosecutors failed to disclose to the defense that they had engaged in a lengthy interview with one Donta Allen, a crime suspect placed in the same police van as Freddie Gray. Prosecutors never revealed this additional interview even up to the day before Goodson’s trial. Indeed, the defense would never have learned of it except that the attorney representing Allen, Jack B. Rubin, felt ethically obliged to inform them of the event, and did so about a week ago.

Upon receipt of this information from Attorney Rubin, Goodson’s defense counsel contacted prosecutors to learn why they had failed to disclose they had not disclosed that interview with Allen. Prosecutors claimed they were under no obligation to disclose the interview because Allen had not said anything different from his earlier, disclosed, statements, and that the state did not intend to call Allen as a witness.

The defense filed a motion to dismiss at that time, which trial Judge Barry Williams kept under seal. After reviewing both defense motions and state responses, and in view of his intent to hold an open-court hearing on the issue today, Judge Williams unsealed the documents yesterday.

Allen’s testimony is of particular importance to the case because he had initially testified that he heard the other passenger in the van, whom he could not see, was making a great deal of noise as if they were throwing themselves around the van or banging their head on the van. This testimony would be consistent with the theory that Gray’s injuries were of his own making, and not the result of any police misconduct.

Allen’s testimony changed, however, once he discovered that the other person in the van had been Freddie Gray, and he became aware of the political import of the case. From that point onward Allen contradicted his initial statement, and claimed that he only heard faint tapping from the other, unseen, passenger.

Allen is currently serving a 10-year sentence for a 2013 armed robbery conviction.

Goodson’s attorneys knew about a meeting between Allen and prosecutors that took place on May 4, 2016, but were never informed about a follow-up meeting that took place on May 7, 2016. The Baltimore Sun described this meeting as an “extended proffer session.”

Essentially, a “proffer session” is a deal-making meeting between prosecutors and a witness or defendant in which prosecutors offer incentives (e.g., reduced or dropped charges) in exchange for cooperation. It is during such a proffer session that Allen would have been most incentivized to be completely frank in his discussion with prosecutors.

This is not the first time that prosecutors in the Freddie Gray trials have been found to have withheld evidence from the defense. The first Freddie Gray trial of police officer William Porter, which ended in a hung jury, showed that prosecutors had failed to disclose that Gray had allegedly claimed a pre-existing back problem the month prior to his fatal neck injury. Porter’s defense attorneys had requested that Judge Williams dismiss the charges against their client because of this prosecutorial misconduct, but Williams declined to do so.

As promised, here is the defense motion to dismiss charges against Goodson to be heard and decided today by trial Judge Barry Williams–it’s a good read:

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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All good, from a appeals standpoint. The defense has offered the judge an opportunity to commit error, and the record is made.

One thing I have a very serious question about: since when does the state have any business filtering exculpatory evidence to see if they think it matters???

    BuckIV in reply to Ragspierre. | June 9, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Exactly! Their explanation is absurd.

    quiksilverz24 in reply to Ragspierre. | June 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Ever since Hillary decided what the plebes need to read from her email, that’s when.

    Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | June 9, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Their reasoning for withholding Allen’s other statement, that they didn’t intend to call him as a witness, is hilarious. By that logic, prosecutors could withhold exculpatory evidence they don’t intend to present, which makes no sense at all since they never present exculpatory evidence on their own anyway.

    The other assertion, that Allen said nothing different in the second interview, is simply not true.

    This judge is very indulgent of the prosecution. They should be up on sanctions.

Oh, and good for Rubin!

So, did the Defense get the judge to admit that the prosecutor’s misconduct occurred, but just did not rise to the level of dismissing the charges? It seems to my (non-lawyer) instincts that such an admission might be grounds for appeal, OR the possibility of the judge considering the idea of “Let’s just get this over with so I can give a not-guilty verdict and move on.” The prosecution has a rather large mountain to climb in order to prove their case, and they seem to be using a shovel to dig a hole instead.

    Humphrey's Executor in reply to georgfelis. | June 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Since we’ve sunk this far we may as well bring back Trial by Combat. Put it on pay per view. Then at least it will generate some much needed revenue.

Morning Sunshine | June 9, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Would seem to me that maybe the city knows they have no case, but want to punish these officers with the expense and stress of a trial? The process IS the punishment?

So they don’t have to hand over exculpatory evidence as long as they don’t plan on using it? That’s their argument?

Liberty Bell | June 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Is withholding evidence one of the due process violations that can pierce prosecutorial immunity in a civil lawsuit?

Is there no remedy for prosecutorial misconduct?

The background information in the Motion is the whole case and it favors Goodson and not the narrative of the prosecutors.

I am surprised Judge Williams denied the motion.

“The state is wrong.”

This entire case should make Max Sennett laugh out loud (and he’s been dead for years). Marilyn Mosby and her Keystone Kops!

Puzzling denial by the judge in light of the established Brady violations by the SAO…as other posters have suggested…is it that the judge knows the government’s case is weak and wants it to go forward for a jury acquittal…quite a uncomfortable gamble from the defendant’s point of view…Has the judge’s denial been posted?….if so, can the link be posted by a poster….all good posts….

After reading that interview transcript, it must have been very frustrating for the prosecutors trying to get Allen to change his story in a way that they could use during that hours-long proffer meeting. LOL. Freddie Gray probably wasn’t the only person in this case who felt like banging his head against something hard.

This case really is ridiculous. It’s so painfully obvious that these four cops did nothing to cause Gray’s injuries. The prosecutors — and the judge — should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this farce to go on.

    I can offer one possible explanation for denying the motion. Yes, he knows the case has little-to-no merit, but he’s giving the prosecution every chance to prove murder and/or misconduct.

    I believe he’s doing it to appease The Mob, to show without a doubt that the prosecution’s narrative of events is total crap. They can’t prove their case, but unless it gets aired, there will always be that section of The Mob that claims the judge was biased.

    It’s a little too close to Mosby’s appeasement of The Mob by pressing inflated charges, but in this case it’s the only way to get the facts — ALL the facts — on the record. To air the laundry, so to speak.

    So as much as I disagree with not dismissing meritless charges, I can understand one possible reason why he would deny the motion.

      Ragspierre in reply to Archer. | June 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Via its motion, the defense also managed to put the whole deal before the court, which is part of the virtue of the bench trial. You can’t make the judge un-see the evidence!

        Observer in reply to Ragspierre. | June 9, 2016 at 2:36 pm

        Yes, and the transcript of Allen’s interview on April 12, the day of Gray’s arrest, before Gray had died, before the media hype exploded, before Allen knew who Gray was or what had happened to him, is pretty compelling. Allen at that point had no reason to lie. And the judge will know that.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Observer. | June 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm

          LOL, as I was reading the transcript of Allen’s questioning as I got to the end I had a flashback to the movie Liar Liar with Jim Carey at one point during the big trial when he can’t lie they are playing a recording and at one point he stands up and yell’s “Objection!” and the Judge replies; “On what grounds?” to which Carey replies “Because it devastating to my case!”

          This may not be quite that dramatic but I think the analogy is pretty apt.

      Char Char Binks in reply to Archer. | June 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      I doubt it took much convincing to get Allen to change his tune. He seemed very willing to implicate the police, particularly the white police, in his interview with Janice Bledsoe’s girlfriend. All he needed was nudge to get on track with The Narrative.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Archer. | June 9, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      I can offer another reason to deny the motion, to keep his house from being the victim of arson. If he just dismissed out of hand the most serious charges can you imagine?

      At least this way there is a trial and he can let the prosecution make a fool of itself again.

      I am really beginning to wonder if this Judge was told a big pile of lies about what the prosecution had as evidence and is now being caught between a rock and a hard place.

      amatuerwrangler in reply to Archer. | June 10, 2016 at 12:24 am

      Yes, the judge could have dismissed after hearing the motion, but that would have left the prosecution with the option of dredging up some new evidence and making a run at refiling charges, unless he dismissed “with prejudice”. It would have also provided ammunition to those who demand justice for claims that the case ended on some “legal technicality” that was the safe harbor for the obviously guilty officer.

      By letting the trial run its course all of the prosecution’s case goes into the trial record allowing all interested to see why a not guilty verdict was the only one he could render. And if the prosecution does no better in the trial than in this hearing, I would expect a defense motion for acquittal at the closing of the prosecution case.

      For those wondering, this kind of Brady dodge, claiming that they did not have to discover witness testimony or other evidence they did not plan to introduce at trial, is a legal rarity — you better be sitting down — you are painfully wrong. And many a judge will give the prosecution a pass when it is brought to light. Of course the prosecution would not bring a witness to the stand who identified someone else for the offense, or who failed to identify the defendant in a lineup; it would only hurt their case. Of course the defense would love to know that witness existed, but the prosecution won’t divulge he exists.

      I would be willing to wager real money that almost every commenter here who has experience in defending those accused of crimes has a “Brady” story of this nature; names, dates, the whole sh*taree.

The state denies that any transcripts were made or notes taken. Is it a violation of client-lawyer privilege for Rubin to testify that notes were taken?

“…It is during such a proffer session that Allen would have been most incentivized to be completely frank in his discussion with prosecutors…”

If by ‘completely frank’ you mean ‘tell the prosecutors just what they want to hear in exchange for a sweetheart deal that would let a known felon out onto the street in exchange for putting a police officer in jail’ then yes, that’s about right.

Thanks to the commenters for their insightful opinions.

I good example of not asking a question you don’t know the answer to, although these guys were detectives, not lawyers.

The detectives came back in to clarify a few things at the end. They were trying to get Donte to explain how he knew it was the Gray’s head that he was banging. They asked if the sound was coming from up high or down low. Donte answered the sound came from down low. That could be used to argue he heard Gray banging his feet into the wall, not his head.

They should have just been happy with the statement that Gray was loudly banging his head and seemed like he was trying to knock himself out.

I agree that this was a serious Brady violation and when considering the previous violations that have occurred, it should have resulted in a dismissal.

Why is it that in every picture I see of this woman, it looks like she needs a laxative?

    amatuerwrangler in reply to Anchovy. | June 10, 2016 at 12:30 am

    That probably would not be necessary. If the results of this trial reflect the quality of the prosecution case, she is certainly going to sh*t. It is open to speculation if the expression will change.

Andrew summarizes:
“Specifically, the motion filed by Goodson’s lawyers earlier this week (but under seal until yesterday) asked Judge Williams to dismiss the charges against their client on the grounds that the prosecution has repeatedly concealed from the defense exculpatory evidence. This follows on at least two prior incidents in the Freddie Gray trials in which prosecutors had similarly withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.”

All I can say is the parallels between this case and the Duke Lacrosse case are beginning to merge. One of the four reasons the Durham County (NC) District Attorney Mike Nifong was DISBARRED was due to a finding that he willfully withheld exculpatory evidence. See:

The NC State Bar determined:
“The (NC State) bar’s three-member disciplinary panel unanimously found Nifong guilty of fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation; of making false statements of material fact before a judge; of making false statements of material fact before bar investigators, and of lying about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence, among other violations.”

This is gonna be good. And they always say we Southerners are a bunch of rednecks and you can’t get justice down here!
(Disclaimer: I am kinda, sorta redneck, but I possess a damn fine legal edjumacashun.)

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Redneck Law. | June 9, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Indeed, it’s Duke deja vu all over again, just as Ferguson was Zimmerman redux.

    Bonfires Of The Vanities

Said all along , Marilyn Mosby , Hillary’s attorney general in training in the tradition of Holder and Lynch

inspectorudy | June 10, 2016 at 1:05 am

From comments made by this judge in the previous trials, I would venture a guess that he is going to bend over backwards to allow the prosecution to hang themselves. I think he realizes that transparency is paramount to the citizens of Baltimore and if he comes across as a pro-defendant judge, the city could be thrown into chaos again.It would take a real ideological judge to allow his own feelings to influence a trial as poorly conceived and presented as this one.

I guess nobody was watching the riots. In Baltimore they police were ordered to cordon it off but not interfere. In San Jose they were ordered to allow the rioters to beat their victims and even forced victims to run the gauntlet.

But nobody is seeing a pattern. The pattern is plain. The state is openly against the average citizen. There has already been open warfare declared on one side. It happened when the New Black Panthers were allowed to walk after conviction of voter intimidation.

It has been confirmed many times since then. The TSA is pure Kabuki theater with obvious non-terrorists subjected to the same treatment as possible terrorists and they have never once caught a single one. We have had the Malheur protestors/occupiers chased down and shot, murdered in cold blood for daring to stand up to Dingy Reid and his BLM cronies. We have whole cities that allow violent riots called protests and police are ordered to watch and ignore victims. Every day we have armed gang members spray bullets and more people are killed every year than in the Iraq war but they make no effort to catch, prosecute or disarm the gang members only law abiding citizens. They set up check points hundreds of miles from any border asking citizens for id as if we were subjects. They allow wilding and polar bear hunting all over America yet have never cracked down. They force us to accept perverts in public restrooms with our daughters. They force us at gun point and by destroying our livelihoods and lives to participated in perversion not just participate actively celebrate.

All this is a clear pattern. If you had gone back in time to talk to yourself in 2000 would you have believed that the president of the US would force your daughter to pee or disrobe in front of a man who says he’s a woman? Would you have believed that the government would allow howling mobs to chase down political opponents? Would you have believed that they would force people at gun point to bake a cake for a gay wedding? Would you have believed that ‘gay weddings’ would be required in fifty states?

The war has started. Right now the decent people in the middle don’t want a fight. They want to believe that they can live their lives without being affected too much. They have jobs and homes and will face prosecution (unlike the criminals) if they fight back.

It’s started but only one side is fighting right now. It only takes one side to start a war and one side is still trying to pretend it isn’t happening.