Thursday, June 9, 2016
Judge in Freddie Gray Case Finds Brady Violation, Says Baltimore's #2 Prosecutor Doesn't Understand Discovery Rules
Earlier today, Judge Barry Williams found that the prosecution in the Caesar Goodson case violated Brady v. Maryland by failing "to disclose to the defense that they had engaged in a lengthy interview with one Donta Allen." Goodson was the van driver in the Freddie Gray case; he's been charged with murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in connection with Gray's death. Allen was another criminal suspect in the van.
According to an article on Judge Williams's decision:
In his original statement to police in April last year, Allen said he heard loud banging coming from Gray's side of the vehicle. He gave a similar statement in a separate interview with prosecutors a month later, but the state never turned it over as evidence to defense attorneys. Judge Williams found today that prosecutors committed a so-called Brady Violation because Allen's May 2015 statement was deemed exculpatory evidence and it's the state's duty to divulge this information to the defense.
“The state doesn’t get to decide whether or not to disclose information,” defense attorney Andrew Graham said. “The state sat on it for over a year. It’s not up to them to make that decision. Even a small piece of evidence may make a difference. It’s not fair to the defense.”
He explained that had Allen’s lawyer, who was present during the second interview, not stepped forward, the defense would not have known about it at all. According to Graham, Allen’s lawyer didn’t come forward sooner because he felt his obligation was to maintain confidentiality to his client.
According to the defense, this undisclosed statement is "consistent with the theory that Gray’s injuries were of his own making, and not the result of any police misconduct."
Here is a copy of the defense's motion, which also contains a transcript of Allen's undisclosed statement. The defense argued that the Brady violation was significant enough that the case should be dismissed, but Judge Williams instead gave the State until Monday to turn over any other evidence that it might be withholding. That said, Judge Williams was reportedly "visibly angry" with the State. Judge Williams "flat out told [Michael] Schatzow, No 2 prosecutor in Baltimore he did not understand discovery rules." According to Judge Williams, "I'm not saying you did anything nefarious. I'm saying you don't know what exculpatory means."