Ethics Quote Of The Day: Baltimore Judge Barry G. Williams

Prosecutors are not supposed to play this game...

Prosecutors are not supposed to play this game…

“I’m not saying you did anything nefariously, I’m saying you don’t know what exculpatory means.”

—- Judge Barry G. Williams, presiding in the Baltimore trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr for his alleged role in the death of Freddie Gray, excoriating the prosecution for illegally withholding Brady evidence from the defense.

There is more evidence that the Baltimore prosecution of six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray a year ago is less a matter of seeking justice than it is a sacrificial offering of  innocent law enforcement professionals to avoid civil unrest.

I have already chronicled the disturbing pattern of the prosecution in this case, where premature and dubious charges were brought against the officers in the wake of destructive rioting and threats from African-American activists. Now it appears that a statement supporting the officers by Donta Allen, the man sharing the police van with Gray—who ended his trip fatally injured—was never made available to the defense. Because  the statement was potentially supportive of the officers in their defense, the material had to be handed over by prosecutors under the Supreme Court decision in Brady v. Marylandthe landmark 1963 case holding in 1963 that “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”

There were only two people present during Ray’s final ride, other than Gray himself:  Goodson, the driver, and Donta Allen, another arrested subject who was  separated from Gray by a thin metal screen.

Allen has  made wildly conflicting statements about what transpired. He initially told police that Gray was “trying to knock himself out” in the back of the van, then later denied that statement to the news media. However, Allen had a second session with police investigators a year ago, shortly after the charges against the officers were brought by City Attorney Marilyn Mosely. In that meeting, Allen reiterated and confirmed his original statement that suggested Gray was trying to injure himself. Prosecutors never brought his second statement to the attention of the defense.

Andrew Graham, Goodson’s attorney, said that the evidence was potentially exculpatory and had to be handed over by prosecutors under Brady. The lawyer moved for the case against his client to be dismissed for prosecutor misconduct, or, in the alternative, asked  that Allen’s statement to police be allowed into evidence regardless of whether he took the stand as a witness.  He reminded the judge that Baltimore prosecutors been reprimanded for withholding evidence in the case twice before.

Judge Barry Williams ( No, not the “Brady Bunch” actor—don’t be silly ) denied the motion and rejected the request to allow Allen’s statement into evidence. However,  he also reprimanded Chief Deputy Michael Schatzow and other prosecutors for failing to disclose the information, and gave the prosecution team  a deadline to produce any and all Brady material that had not already been handed over in the Gray death prosecutions.

Williams uttered his Ethics Quote of the Week after Schatzow argued that Allen provided nothing at their meeting in May 2015 that required disclosure to the defense. The judge also expressed little hope that the prosecution would hand over all exculpatory evidence, since it apparently didn’t comprehend what exculpatory evidence was. “My concern becomes what else is out there,” Williams said to Schatzow. “If your office doesn’t get that, I don’t know where we are at this point.”

Where they are is a political prosecution and show trial manufactured to satisfy Black Lives Matter protesters and activists, using the lives and careers of Baltimore police officers as pawns.

It seems that while the prosecution may not know the meaning of exculpatory, Judge Williams may not know the meaning of nefarious.

____________________________

Pointer: Fred

Facts: Baltimore Sun

 

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