One witness’s testimony in the trial against Officer Caesar R. Goodson for the death of Freddie Gray may reconfigure the legal right not to self-incriminate.
Judge Barry G. Williams ordered Officer William G. Porter to testify against Goodson, the Baltimore Sun reported. The order supports the prosecution’s goal of bringing Porter to the stand as a material witness to Goodson, who faces the most severe charges of the officers on trial, including second-degree “depraved heart” murder. But after a jury deadlocked on all charges against Porter, questions are being raised about whether Porter’s testimony precludes fairness for his retrial that is scheduled for June.
“The second he testifies, that may change the game,” Williams told the Sun.
Currently, there is no precedent for this kind of situation. Rarely is the right not to self-incriminate overridden by the state’s call for a co-defendant to testify against one another. Yet the present situation may go forth based on the fact there is no legal statute barring its possibility.
Williams’ order includes granting Porter immunity to ensure his testimony will not be used against him. The defense’s attorneys plan no less to an injunction. Not only because it jeopardizes Porter’s right to evoke the fifth amendment, but almost based on the argument that the prosecution can’t “un-know what they already know.”
It may be possible for there to be a “Kastigar hearing” before Porter’s next trial, a procedure that will put the burden of proof on the prosecution to demonstrate nothing said during the Goodson trial will be used against Porter.
Navigating the concerns raised for Porter could put a hold on proceedings against Goodson.
Goodson’s trial is set to begin on Monday.
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons