The prosecution against the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray landed a big win when Maryland’s highest court ruled Baltimore Officer William Porter must testify against his fellow officers. But it may not be all bad news for Porter.
High-profile New York defense attorney Barry Slotnick told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the judge’s decision could be a blessing in disguise for Porter. Slotnick argues that if Porter is forced to testify, he can’t be prosecuted.
You can’t force someone to testify if they raise their fifth amendment rights and then prosecute them. It can’t happen. I don’t know of any case where that has happened.
If I represented Porter I would move to dismiss his indictment based upon the fact that he is being asked to violate his fifth amendment rights and if that were denied he would then invoke his Fifth Amendment rights.
Slotnick said if that motion were denied, he would have Porter take the stand but refuse to answer any questions, citing his Fifth Amendment rights. He said that if the judge would order him to answer the questions, Porter would have to comply. This would place Porter’s defense in the perfect position to argue he was forced to testify, despite his desire to plead the Fifth, therefore he could not be prosecuted.
“Porter may have to testify against the three cops but he won’t be tried again,” Slotnick told TheDCNF. Slotnick said the Fifth Amendment dispute will go all the way to the Supreme Court.
“Although I’ll tell you this will go to the Supreme Court of the United States, who will say ‘Slotnick is right,’” Slotnick told TheDCNF.
Maryland’s highest court ruled last Tuesday that Porter must testify against the other police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, despite the fact that he has pleaded the Fifth and still has pending charges against him.
The prosecution hoped to use Porter’s testimony against the fellow officers until the mistrial in Porter’s case jeopardized that plan. With pending charges still against him, many legal experts thought Porter could still plead the Fifth and refuse to testify.
The prosecution, however, offered Porter limited immunity, which means he has to testify but his testimony cannot be used against him in his own case. Legal experts have said this is not entirely true, since the prosecution’s access to the testimony will certainly help prepare them on how to build the case against the officer, even if they can’t specifically used it in his trial.
Maryland’s highest court had decided to hold off on the trial of Baltimore police officer Caesar R. Goodson until they made their decision on Porter, but now the case can proceed.
Police arrested Gray in April and transported him in the back of a police van. The details are unclear with conflicting accounts, but Gray appeared healthy when arrested but was injured within an hour after his encounter with police. His spinal cord was severely damaged and he died a week later from the injuries.
This report, by Casey Harper, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.