The case of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody is set to come back into focus, as court proceedings get underway on Sept 2. Activists and police are outlining plans for where they will be deployed on the street. Thanks in part to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, here’s a look at what’s happening in Judge Barry Williams’ courtroom.
When the national spotlight last left the case itself, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against the six officers who were with Gray during the time of his arrest and the much-scrutinized transport through West Baltimore that eventually ended with his death. While the indictment was the only action of legal consequence so far, Mosby was hardly the only lawyer to weigh in on the case with a formal court filing. Attorneys for the police filed a bevy of motions challenging aspects of the case, from the investigation Mosby’s office conducted to the location of the trial to the right of Mosby herself to prosecute the case. That sets up a pair of hearings ahead of the officers’ trial, which as of now is scheduled to begin Oct. 13.
Sept. 2: Mosby and the Charges
On Sept. 2, the judge will consider the host of motions concerning Marilyn Mosby and the work her office did in putting together the case against the officers. This includes a series of motions to dismiss charges against the officers. While unlikely, these are high stakes because dismissing charges would effectively end the case. The officers’ attorneys also want Mosby off the case, essentially alleging she brought the charges for political gain and has a conflict of interest due to the fact that she is married to City Councilman Nick Mosby. A third series of motions relates to documents that will or will not be admissible at the trial. One of these is Gray’s autopsy. Yet another set of motions asks for the officers to have separate trials.
Given all the material here, it’s helpful to remember that the rulings in all of the cases may not come at one time. Williams has discretion to rule on the day of the hearings, or defer his rulings to a later date.
Sept. 10: The Venue
At this hearing, the judge will consider whether the officers should be tried in Baltimore City. On this motion, the officers’ attorneys argue that the media attention focused on the case will automatically bias any jury.
We’ve seen plans for protests at the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse where the hearings will be held from groups who marched in April like the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly and Bmore Bloc. Protesters are calling for Mosby to remain in charge of prosecuting the case, the venue to remain the same and for the charges against the officers to remain intact.
As the motions were being filed throughout the summer, city officials and police said they were reviewing the events surrounding the protests, unrest and rioting that followed Gray’s funeral in April to keep violence from happening again. That included outreach to community leaders on one side, and ordering more riot gear on another. Security will be increased at the courthouse, and the police department cancelled leave for officers during the hearings, so their presence will definitely be felt along with the demonstrators.
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