Earlier this month the trial of Officer William Porter resulted in a mistrial when a Baltimore jury failed to reach a verdict on any of the charges against him in connection with Freddy Gray’s death. Now, another trial of Porter is set to begin on June 13 of next year.
The fact that Porter will stand trial again poses a problem for the prosecution in its case against Officer Caesar Goodson, whose trial is scheduled to begin early in January. It wants to use Porter’s testimony against Goodson, who drove the police van in which Gray sustained injury and who faces the most serious charges. But Porter is still in legal jeopardy and thus can be expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called as a witness against Goodson.
This is why the prosecution wanted to try Porter first. Apparently, it didn’t expect a hung jury, though given the certainty of a racially mixed jury, that outcome shouldn’t have come as a great surprise.
Can the prosecution find a way to get Porter’s testimony without cutting him loose? One veteran criminal lawyer told the Baltimore Sun that it’s not impossible for prosecutors to get Porter on the stand, but they will have to find a “novel and cutting edge application of the Fifth Amendment” in lieu of dropping his charges.
I won’t weep for the prosecution, but will spare a thought for Baltimore. In addition to Porter, there are five more officers to prosecute. It’s quite possible that these cases will generate additional mistrials. Thus, Baltimore might have to endure the expense and potential for unrest associated with Freddy Gray trials through 2016 and possibly into 2017.
When does enough become enough? Perhaps when Marilyn Mosby concludes that these trials no longer serve her political aspirations and those of her husband.