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Tags: gray | freddie

Judicial Watch Supports Police Rights in Freddie Gray Case

Tom Fitton By Monday, 22 February 2016 01:44 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When an angry mob begins to dictate justice, we all lose out. And the poisonous atmosphere that now exists toward law enforcement officers is a danger to all of us. So I’m especially proud of our legal team’s brief in support of the rule of law and the rights of an accused police officer in what is now one of the most notorious, racially-divisive criminal cases in the country.

Specifically, Judicial Watch’s attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, arguing that forcing Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter to testify against fellow officers before his June retrial for manslaughter, assault, and other criminal charges over the police-custody death of Freddie Gray Jr., would have a significant, adverse chilling effect on his constitutional rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

We argue the unusual push to force Office Porter to testify while facing charges is part of an unjust effort “to quiet unrest and appease violent protesters.” We filed the brief last week, on Feb. 10.

The brief explains our interest in the case: "Judicial Watch seeks to participate as an amicus curiae in this matter to ensure that due care and the full protections of the law – not a hasty rush to judgment or short-sighted effort to placate angry protesters – are afforded to all persons and entities involved. Of particular concern to Judicial Watch are the 'uncharted' questions of law raised by the State’s efforts to compel Officer William G. Porter to testify at the trials of his fellow officers following his mistrial and before his retrial."

In January, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City ordered officer Porter to testify, over the assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, in the trials of two police officer co-defendants. Last night the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court, took up the issue for expedited consideration. Argument is scheduled for March 3.

Judicial Watch attorneys argue to the appellate courts: "Under the unique circumstances presented by this case, the State cannot accuse Officer Porter of perjury, compel him to testify against his fellow officers, and seek to retry him without violating his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights."

On April 12, 2015, Gray was arrested by the Baltimore City Police. One week later, Gray died on April 19, 2015, after sustaining spinal cord injuries while being transported in a police van on the day of his arrest.

His death sparked violent rioting, leading to over 100 police officers being injured, multiple arrests, hundreds of businesses being destroyed, a state of emergency, and deployment of the National Guard.

On May 1, less than two weeks after Gray’s death, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest. All have pleaded not guilty. In announcing the charges, Mosby suggested the quick decision to prosecute the officers, was in response to the demands of violent protestors: “To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

Baltimore politicians don’t seem to care much about the constitutional rights of the police officers facing imprisonment in the Freddie Gray prosecution. This prosecution undermines the public’s faith in the fair administration of justice.

Forcing defendants to testify in plain violation of their Fifth Amendment rights would turn our justice system on its head. It is looking more and more like these Baltimore police officers are in the dock for the death of Gray in order to appease a violent mob. Is this what justice in Maryland looks like?

Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch. He is a nationally recognized expert on government corruption. A former talk radio and television host and analyst, Tom is well known across the country as a national spokesperson for the conservative cause. He has been quoted in Time, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and most every other major newspaper in the country. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Baltimore politicians don’t seem to care much about the constitutional rights of the police officers facing imprisonment in the Freddie Gray prosecution.
gray, freddie
Monday, 22 February 2016 01:44 PM
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