In a highly unusual legal ruling, Baltimore Officer William Porter will be forced to testify against his fellow officers in the death of Freddie Gray. Porter is awaiting his trial this spring, after jury failed to reach a verdict in his manslaughter trial. Gray fell into a coma, and then eventually died, after being transported to jail last year.
Baltimore Judge Berry G. Williams said he found himself in “uncharted territory” — because he allowed the charges to stand but prohibited Porter’s testimony from being used against him, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Confused? You are not alone. This apparently a first in the State of Maryland.
Here is why it is so unusual. Typically, a witness can’t be forced to testify when he or she is facing potential criminal charges.
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “no person.. shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself… ” In this case, Judge Williams is getting creative– by still forcing Porter to testify while also barring that particular testimony from being used in his upcoming trial. Porter’s attorneys say it is a clear violation of his state and federal constitutional rights.
Williams, prosecutors & defense all agreed ruling may be first of its kind… Porter attys going to Ct of Appeals tomorrow for injunction
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) January 6, 2016
Judge Williams, in this case, even acknowledging with some sarcasm that this ruling is a first for him.
“It’s gotta be me,” he said in court according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Baltimore Sun initially reported that prosecutors may give Porter immunity from prosecution, if he testifies. The State of Maryland prohibits cameras in the courtroom
Rachel Stockman is the Senior Editor at LawNewz.com, a new Abrams media website covering law and crime launching next week.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]