LI: Freddie Gray Trial: Jury Selection Begins Amid Protests

From my post today over at Legal Insurrection:

Yesterday jury selection began in the first of the six expected trials over the in-custody death of Freddie Gray.

This first case tries 26-year-old Officer William Porter, who like Gray is black. The trial is being presided over by Judge Barry G. Williams, who is also black. (I mention the races of those involved only because the case has been racially-charged from the first riots.)

Unfortunately, Maryland does not allow cameras in the court room, and even reporters who are present are permitted to access electronics (and thus tweet, etc.) only on breaks, so we don’t expect there will be much of the blow-by-blow coverage we’ve done in other high-profile trials. (Reporters in the overflow room also cannot use electronics, but are permitted to enter and exit as they please.)

Nevertheless, a few general observations can be made based on yesterday’s reporting.

Protestors Chants Heard Clearly in Court Room

A major issue in all these trials has been whether, due to the extensive riots and looting that erupted in Baltimore a week after Gray’s death and continuing for many days thereafter, it would be in the interests of justice to change the venue of the trial to a location outside of the city. Defense attorneys for the six police officers to be tried have made repeated motions for a change of venue.

The most comprehensive of the defense motions for a change of venue, on behalf of all six officers, is embedded at the bottom of this post, and lays out the defense rationale in great detail.

All defense motions for a change of venue have been rejected by Judge Williams, whose position is that it cannot be known if an impartial jury can be found in the city until the effort has been made.  That effort began yesterday with voire dire of 75 prospective jurors, and continues to day with a similar number. Ultimately 12 primary jurors and about 4 alternates will be chosen.

Yesterday’s reporting, however, notes that the protestors’ chants (presumably electronically amplified) outside of the court house could be heard inside the courtroom. As noted by the Washington Post:

Chants from demonstrators — standing outside in the cold, light rain — filtered into the marbled courtroom: “We won’t stop until killer cops are in cellblocks.”

And by CNN:

Inside the courtroom, the chants of protesters outside could be heard clearly …

And also noted in this tweet by Justin Fenton of The Baltimore Sun:

Protestor chants 12-1-15

To read the whole thing, click over to Legal Insurrection.

Freddie Gray Trial: Jury Selection Begins Amid Protests

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca is a Massachusetts lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense website (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), and many other re-sellers. Andrew just launched his latest product, the LOSD Instructor Program, designed for gun safety, marksmanship and tactical strategy instructors. Be an elite member of the self defense community, understanding your state's self defense laws to a depth even lawyers rarely achieve. Check it out here.   Andrew also gives live, in-person, ~5 hour-long state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars all over the country. Click here to find a live seminar covering your state's self-defense laws.   Andrew also produces many 4-5 hour online, on-demand state-specific Law of Self Defense training courses. These online classes are enriched versions of the live, in-person state-specific Law of Self Defense Class Andrew gives all around the country. Click here to find an online course for your state. These online classes are priced at $249/HOUSEHOLD. You can learn more details and view the first section of the training class for free (about 30 minutes worth of self-defense law training) by clicking here.

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