ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Lawyers for Officer William Porter are fighting a judge’s ruling that Porter must testify against other officers involved in the Freddie Gray case.
The critical argument is before one of the state’s highest courts, with Officer Caesar Goodson Junior’s trial scheduled to start next week.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with the legal maneuvers in this high-profile case.
Time is of the essence. Officer Porter is scheduled to testify against Officer Goodson on Jan. 14.
This has already had a ripple effect, pushing back the trials of Sergeant Alicia White and Officer Garrett Miller by several weeks.
Officer William Porter lawyer, Gary Proctor, walked inside the Courts of Appeal building, where he filed a 39-page injunction, detailing why his client should not be forced to testify against Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. and Sergeant Alicia White.
But the road ahead may not be so easy.
Judge Barry Williams has ruled that Porter cannot invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, even though he faces his own retrial and possible federal charges.
Defense attorney and former Baltimore City prosecutor Adam Ruther:
“The way the appellate courts will look on it is really anybody’s guess. It is completely unprecedented,” said Ruther, Rosenberg, Martin and Greenberg.
A panel of judges will handle this appeal and may call a hearing—but the clock is ticking.
Porter’s testimony in the Goodson trial is scheduled for next week.
“There’s no doubt that Officer Porter’s testimony is really pivotal in Officer Goodson’s case. He can be held in contempt, yes, and he can be jailed for a certain period of time as a result of that contempt,” said Ruther.
Prosecutors have offered Porter limited immunity, but not against federal prosecution or perjury.
As the defense points out, prosecutors repeatedly called Porter a liar during his trial.
“They’ve said to Officer Porter, ‘Whatever you say in this trial against Officer Goodson will never be used against you,’” Ruther said.
The Appeals Courts’ decision could have a sweeping impact on future Maryland cases and could make or break the prosecution in all of the cases involving whether officers broke the law in the death of Freddie Gray.
Officer Goodson, the van driver, faces the most serious charges. If prosecutors cannot get a conviction against him, it could jeopardize their momentum going forward in all of these cases.