Controversy About Whether Freddie Gray Jurors Will Be Isolated

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In less than a month, the first officer accused in Freddie Gray’s death goes on trial here in Baltimore. There’s already controversy about whether the jury will be isolated; forced to stay in a hotel, cut off from the world.

Meghan McCorkell looks at what could happen.

Defense attorneys say for their clients to get a fair trial, the jury needs to be isolated. Prosecutors argue that essentially makes jurors prisoners of the circuit court.

Sleeping in a hotel room, restricted access to TV and no cell phones–lawyers for Officer William Porter say that’s how they want the jury in their upcoming trial.

Porter is charged with manslaughter and second-degree assault in the April death of Freddie Gray. His attorneys say with the intense media scrutiny, the jury must be isolated for Porter to get a fair trial.

But prosecutors are arguing against what they call “almost prison-like conditions” for the jury.

“You’re not going to be watching TV. You’re not going to be reading newspapers. You’re not going to be playing on your phone without any sort of supervision,” said Adam Ruther, legal analyst.

A situation prosecutors call “so onerous that few otherwise qualified jurors could withstand the hardship.”

Legal analyst Adam Ruther says an order to sequester would significantly limit the jury pool.

“It would make it substantially harder to pick a jury, because again, there are a great number of people who aren’t able to sit on a jury when it means they’re not going home at night,” said Ruther.

Approving a motion to sequester a jury is incredibly rare in Maryland.

Nationally, juries have been isolated in several high profile trials, including John Gotti, O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman.

Ruther says this case may be on that level.

“It’s a pretty extraordinary circumstance,” he said. “But this is certainly the kind of case where it’s not an unreasonable request.”

Now the decision is in the hands of the judge.

The defense has also asked that the jury remain anonymous, with their names never revealed to the public.

The trial for Officer William Porter is slated to begin November 30.

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