With the coming trial of Officer William G. Porter – one of the six officers responsible for the death of 25 year-old Freddie Gray back in April – on the horizon, intense media scrutiny has flooded the case. So much so, that a judge ruled on Tuesday (Nov. 24) that jurors participating in the case will remain anonymous.
The jury selection is set to start on Monday (Nov. 30), according to The New York Times. In doing so, Judge Barry G. Williams of Baltimore City Circuit Court found that the jury could be subjected to “undue harassment” if their names were released. However, he did deny a request from defense lawyers to isolate the jurors on the case
Yet for the pre-trial motions in Officer Porter’s case, the judge will allow members of the jury to watch two cell phone video clips of Gray’s arrest. One which shows how he was shackled as he was taken into the police van, which prosecutors say is what caused the spinal injury that led to his death. The judge also said he would let the jurors inspect the van.
Despite all the access the judicial system is granting jurors, legal experts say that prosecutors will face some upcoming obstacles in proving their cases against all the officers. They say the first trial is the determining factor in the rest of the cases that follow. Some even go ahead to say that Officer Porter may withdrawl from trial all together, and just have Judge Williams decide his fate.
“When officers have been charged with this kind of misconduct, they have traditionally waived the jury, tried the case in front of a judge — and tended to be successful,” said David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, who has kept a watchful eye on the case since its inception.
This trials comes after seven months of Freddie Gray’s death. Officer Porter is facing charges manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, but has pleaded not guilty on all counts. Reportedly, officers are preparing for a tumultuous time if Officer Porter is acquitted.
Let’s hope justice will be served.