We’ve consistently seen our criminal justice system behave much more benevolently when the defendants are law enforcement officers: Are the Freddie Gray trials just the latest example?
Jury selection in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson, who drove the van in which Freddie Gray was allegedly killed, lasted about a minute on Monday before Judge Barry Williams postponed the trial indefinitely. The reason? Williams had ordered Officer William Porter to testify against Goodson—but because Porter himself was also allegedly involved in Gray’s death, and will soon be retried for manslaughter, an appeals court blocked the order to testify with a temporary injunction. Now the case cannot proceed until that appeals court rules on Porter’s eligibility to be forced to testify as he awaits his own trial. (The jury in the first trial against Porter couldn’t reach a verdict.)
Williams granted Porter limited immunity in exchange for his testimony, asserting that nothing Porter says on the witness stand will be used against him during his June trial. Porter balked, insisting that his compelled testimony violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Now the Maryland Court of Special Appeals will wade in to decide whether Williams can legally compel Porter’s testimony. In the meantime, Goodson’s trial will remain postponed.