Well, we can put the entire question about whether Judge Barry Williams is an “activist judge” to rest. This ruling is a direct contradiction to the 5th Amendment and an accused person’s right not to testify in trial. The state cannot force a defendant to accept immunity.
Officer Porter’s trial ended in a “mistrial” (hung jury); as a consequence, the prosecution has announced their intent to re-try Porter later in the year which means any testimony he gives can/will be used against him at a later trial date; despite the judge saying the prosecution cannot use such testimony – it becomes impossible testimony to parse.
In addition the federal DOJ has previously announced their intentions to investigate/charge based on civil rights violations, so any testimony carries an additional overture of concern with future prosecution.
Judge Barry Williams says he finds himself in “uncharted territory”. Really? Not-so-much, the law is very clear on this matter. It would not be surprising if an appellate court strikes down this judicial decision as clearly outside the bounds of legal authority.
(Via Baltimore Sun ) Baltimore Judge Barry G. Williams ordered that Officer William Porter be compelled to testify at the upcoming trial of a fellow Baltimore Police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a ruling Porter’s defense attorneys said they would immediately seek an injunction to block.
Williams said he found himself in “uncharted territory” as he granted Porter a type of immunity that allows his charges to stand but which precludes his testimony from being used against him. Attorneys and legal observers agreed that such a ruling against a co-defendant was a first in Maryland.
Porter’s defense attorney Gary Proctor had argued that forcing Porter to testify at the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson would violate his state and federal constitutional rights that protect defendants against self-incrimination, and that he could be subjected to perjury charges or become exposed in a federal investigation.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said Porter could not claim such protections once granted immunity.
“Officer Porter, in the Officer Goodson case, is a witness,” Schatzow told Williams in his argument. “That’s the only status he has.”
Schatzow said that though he thought the law was clear, he agreed the ruling would be a first.
[…] Prosecutors have said Porter is a “material witness” against Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White, whose trial is scheduled for Jan. 25.
Porter remains charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He is scheduled to be retried in June. (read more)