Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sanity and Justice At Last

Now I will say it:  Judge Barry Williams was brave in acquitting Officer Caesar Goodson in the death of Freddie Gray.  One might say that he merely did his job, but some jobs are performed under higher pressure and scrutiny than others.

I first became concerned about his succumbing to pressure when he refused to move the Freddie Gray trials out of Baltimore.  The head of the local NAACP, Tessa Hill-Aston, best illustrated the problem after the Goodson verdict when she opined that a jury would have found Goodson guilty because of their "emotions."  Plenty of jurors in the mistrial of William Porter were moved emotionally to convict him. These trials belonged elsewhere.

Then Judge Williams repeatedly failed to dismiss charges after prosecutors presented their cases against Porter, Edward Nero, and Goodson despite the woeful lack of evidence.  But in the end, when he had to make the most important decision of the Freddie Gray trials, Judge Williams properly applied the law to the evidence and acquitted Goodson of all charges.  He deserves props for this, because plenty of people succumb to political pressure.

No props go to Marilyn Mosby, who turned in a disgraceful performance and made Williams' job so much easier.  Some give Mosby credit for "trying," and do not believe that Goodson's and Nero's acquittals reflect on the appropriateness of her bringing charges.  On the contrary, these verdicts say all we need to know about Mosby's ethics, competency, and the damage she has inflicted upon public safety and the criminal justice system. She announced that her mission was to get justice "for Freddie Gray," not to get justice. She spent less than two weeks investigating his death, ignoring the police detectives and lying about using the sheriff's office as investigators.  She elevated a negligence claim into a murder case, such that too many now think that there's been no "accountability" for Gray's death despite a $6 million settlement.  She claimed officers should not have arrested Gray because the knife he carried was legal, when it wasn't.  She never mentioned a rough ride in her initial charges, then realized late in the game that she needed one to convict for murder.  And the evidence she presented was that Goodson took a wide right turn and then got out of his van. Pathetic does not even describe Mosby's case.

Mosby has accomplished three things in this sorry saga:
  • She raised false expectations for police accountability, such that many who already feel short-changed by the criminal justice system have yet another example of a system that doesn't work. (In fact, it worked perfectly to expose her case.)
  • Mosby demonstrated that she is a political creature who is not to be trusted with the job of following the evidence wherever it leads, the first duty of the State's Attorney.  So while some who already distrusted the "system" have more reason to do, many others have a new (and well-founded) distrust of Baltimore's prosecutor.
  • Citizens of Baltimore are less safe because Mosby's reckless charges have caused individual police officers to step back from proactive policing.
I had hoped not to hear any more drivel from the Baltimore Sun or anyone else unfamiliar with the ethical duty of a prosecutor.  But immediately after the verdict the Sun's editors wrote this:
We give [Mosby] the benefit of the doubt that she and her deputies believed they had a real case.  Indeed, it’s worth noting that Ms. Mosby’s office chose not to present to a grand jury the false imprisonment charges against three officers that she had initially announced. As the facts became clearer, prosecutors adjusted course.
Astonishing.  That they would point to one dropped misdemeanor charge in the midst of an invented murder case as evidence of Mosby's good faith is all we need to know about the Sun's ability to assess her performance. Mosby rushed her investigation for political purposes, ignored any facts that did not support her desire to file criminal charges, and constantly changed theories of criminal liability to give her case legs.  The only thing that became "clearer" about the facts was that no crime was committed, yet she forged ahead.  Sun, give it up.

I will write a wrap-up piece somewhere down the road, when all the cases finally finish.  Let's hope that's sooner rather than later.  If Goodson, the van driver, is not guilty, none of the officers are.  But our Three Blind Mice still get to decide whether we have to endure more of their folly.


  1. I just have to laugh at everyone on Social Media crying racism. Black Prodecutor. 3 black Cops 3 white Cops. 1 black judge.

  2. As a former police officer, prosecutor and defense counsel, you are spot-on. There was nothing ethical or righteous about Mosby or her minions' actions. They bespoke of moral cowardice and incompetence of the highest order: the opposite of a virtuous leader. My nam is David G. Bolgiano and you can quote me publicly. Unlike PERF and other so-called police experts, I am unafraid to put my name behind my words. It is time more folks spoke truth to power and stopped being afraid of the race bullies like BLM and Mosby.

  3. One of the most disturbing things about the Baltimore Sun's supposed unbiased coverage of these trials is how it has been, from the very beginning, a mouth piece for Billy Murphy. It prints whatever he says without questioning the validity of his statements whatsoever. He spews out nonsense, and it's given matter-of-fact credence. The latest example occurred after the acquittal of Officer Goodson. The following is just one of the article's many Murphy absurd quotes:

    "Even though the family gives its 100-percent support to one of the most courageous prosecutors in the United States, Marilyn Mosby, who has led the fight against police brutality and police corruption, they are nonetheless disappointed that the goal of the prosecution has not been achieved," Murphy said during a news conference in his downtown offices Thursday afternoon. "They also understand everybody else's anger and frustration that no police officer has yet been brought to justice in this case."

    This is an outrageous statement for a former judge--justice is exactly what occurred in Judge William's court. I believe it is also incendiary. Finally, by now it's quite apparent Mosby is not courageous, but rather inept and unethical.
    Charles Gilbert

  4. The Sun has given rather mixed coverage. Often they have behaved as you said, but at times they have been just the opposite.
    For example, they just published an account of Det Taylor's GJ testimony, where she was being pushed to give false testimony.

    Which actually is what I wanted to ask about. What kind of repercussions are we likely to see from these revelations.

  5. Page,
    Have you seen the gifts Mosby accepted since filing charges?
    I give her a C' for claiming them on her taxes but an E for etheics.

    Most of these gifts are in appropriate for her to even accept.

  6. Page,
    Same lawyer who helped bring down the lacrosse DA filed a case against Mosby.

    Keep blogging. We love reading your work and opinions. I am sure you have a life, sorry we are so selfish.