Maryland’s highest court, which is called the Court of Appeals, has entered an order staying (delaying) the trials of the remaining Baltimore police officers charged with various crimes for the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died from spinal injuries that he sustained in a police van while being transported to jail. He was shackled and handcuffed, but not belted in as required by police regulation. The court stayed the trials in order to consider whether the prosecution can call Officer William Porter to testify against the officers in their separate trials. Under normal circumstances, no one would seriously contend that the prosecution could not call him as a witness. However, these are not normal circumstances for the simple reason that Porter is a defendant who has a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Porter has already been tried, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict. His case has been rescheduled for trial.
The prosecution had hoped to convict Porter and then use him to testify against the other defendants. He shackled Gray and placed him in the van, so he is an essential witness to establish some basic facts about who did what to Gray. The mistrial complicated that strategy. To get around his Fifth Amendment claim while preserving their option to retry him, the prosecution granted him use immunity for his testimony. That means they agreed not to use anything he said wile testifying at the trials of his codefendants.
Defense counsel predictably objected. The judge ruled that the prosecution could call Porter as a witness against some but not all of the defendants. The prosecution and defense are appealing that order. Some defendants are also arguing that their rights to a speedy trial are being violated by the detour through the appellate courts.
And there you have it.
That is all, except you can go here to read more details.