Prosecutors MIchael Schatzow (umbrella) and Janice Bledsoe (red scarf)

Prosecutors Michael Schatzow (umbrella) and Janice Bledsoe (red scarf) credit: abcnews

Pity the honest citizens of Baltimore, particularly those the corrupt politicians in charge profess to care so much about, the black, the poor, the unemployed. There is no end to this, and the remaining five trials, that will make their lives better, but there is every reason to believe their lives will become ever more chaotic and dangerous. The media will be helpful not to the honest citizens of Baltimore, but to the social justice warriors determined to have their Shylockian pound of flesh.

The jury is deadlocked. Gone home for the evening. There are several significant things to report at the moment. I refer you to this Baltimore Sun story, merely so you can, if you wish, confirm that they continue their pattern of refusing to tell the public about the most important developments in the case, because those developments do not further the social justice narrative. The most important development today concerns Judge Barry Williams.

ABC News, perhaps because they didn’t realize the effect of what they were reporting, wrote this:

Closing arguments finished in the case Monday afternoon and the jury told the judge today that they were deadlocked and unable to reach a decision. Judge Barry Williams ordered the jury to return to chambers to try and reach a unanimous decision.

‘Compromise if you can do so without violence to your own moral judgement,’ Williams said.

Oh. My. God. Until this point, I was actually thinking it possible that Judge Williams was a competent, unbiased jurist doing his best with impossible circumstances. I can no longer be reasonably certain of that.

Sending a jury back to continue deliberations at least once is normal procedure. Trials cost a great deal of time and money, and judges are charged with doing their best to see that time and money are not wasted, but there is a more important principle involved: that justice be done. Doing justice means that the defendant be accorded the presumption of innocence and that he not be convicted unless every element of every charge is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are no compromises involved, ever. If a jury is not unanimously convinced that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant violated every element of every charge, they cannot–must not–be convicted. And Judge Williams told the jury to compromise that one principle that is the very foundation of our system of justice. He told them as long as it didn’t violate their “moral judgement,” they should compromise.

This judicial brain fart–if that’s what it was–shot to the top of a long list of reversible errors the instant it passed William’s lips.

Judge Williams actually told the jury to continue deliberations, but this time, to horse trade. Reasonable doubt, the presumption of innocence, no longer apply. Hell, give the holdout a conviction on count “A,” as long as he compromises and drops the rest. Bargain. Compromise. Quid pro quo: scratch each other’s backs. It doesn’t matter that you believe that the Prosecution didn’t meet its burden on any count, as long as you can compromise and you’re OK with that, convict the bastard!

If there is a conviction now, Judge Williams has ensured that it will be reversed–that is if social justice has not entirely taken over the “justice” system in Maryland. More on this shortly.

The other issue is another motion by the Defense for a change of venue and mistrial, which was, of course, denied by Judge Williams. Back to The Sun:

On Tuesday morning, defense attorneys unsuccessfully moved for a mistrial and change of venue based on a letter sent home to parents of city school students that referred to the possibility of unrest and violence.

Williams quickly denied the motion, saying he was confident that the jurors were not letting outside factors influence them.

The motions were made by Porter’s defense attorneys based upon a letter sent Monday by Baltimore City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton to parents. Thornton assured them that the district is ‘taking every precaution’ to prevent a repeat of the April riots. He warned students that ‘walkouts, vandalism, civil disorder, and any form of violence are not acceptable.

Really. “Not acceptable.” Well, it’s good that the school district is at least talking the talk. Of course, The Mayor and former Police Chief talked the talk too, while allowing criminals all the space they needed to burn and destroy. Here’s the letter, enhanced for size:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 5.33.46 PM

Notice that the purpose of the letter is primarily to reassure parents, but it also warns students about misbehavior. Whether students–and many of their parents–will bother to listen, or whether anyone believes that any of the authorities of Baltimore will actually act against the forces of social justice are very different considerations. What the letter makes clear is that all of the authorities, even the schools, believe Baltimore is in for a very hard ride, and the proximate cause of that is the trials of the six officers.

Was it wrong for CEO Thornton to send out this letter? No. The problem is that at least some of the jurors have school age children, and the jury is not sequestered. They go home every night and return in the mornings. The letter was sent to the parents of every school child in Baltimore.

Gary Proctor, one of Porter’s attorneys, said in court — without the jury present — that the court has been ‘very diligent’ in reminding the jurors not to read news accounts or otherwise seek information about the case outside of what they heard during the trial. But, he said, the court never said ‘don’t open your child’s homework packet.’

The defense asked that jurors be questioned whether they received the letter. Williams also denied that request.

Proctor noted he has children in the city school system himself and received the letter. Some of the jurors may have as well, and it could have had an impact on their ability to reach a fair verdict, he said.

Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow, in response, said there was ‘nothing incendiary’ in the letter, and noted jurors have already assured the court they can be impartial during earlier questioning.

Williams said he did not believe the Thornton’s letter was ‘an appropriate reason’ to grant any of the defense motions, and that jurors have already been thoroughly instructed to only consider what has been presented in court.

Thornton’s letter was submitted as evidence by the defense.

I’m sure the Defense did just that, adding to the ever-growing pile of cause for reversal upon appeal. The grim-faced Mr. Schatzow is being a bit disingenuous. The letter need not be “incendiary.” The problem is that it reminds the jury that their decision will be the spark that lights a fuse that could easily blow Baltimore to bits. No rational person reading that letter could understand anything other than that the school District expects riots and all manner of other disorder, and it all hangs on the jury’s decision.

Final Thoughts:

What’s going on here? Most likely? I suspect there are one or more holdouts for conviction regardless of the evidence. Whether stealth jurors, or merely people that honestly believe that they must convict on something to avoid sparking riots, it makes little difference. Of course, in the backward justice system currently operating in Baltimore, it could be the opposite. There could be a single juror demanding that the evidence decide the case, holding out against the rest wanting to strike a blow for social justice. It could be someone fundamentally confused about the law, reality, or afraid aliens are beaming bizarro rays into their fillings. It could even be as simple as someone stupid and stubborn.

This fundamentally changes things for Judge Williams. Is he, as a (thankfully) former U.S. Attorney General once said, trying to accomplish something for “his people?” But Porter is black! Yes, but he’s a cop, and the privileged villain of the moment in the social justice narrative. That overrides racial solidarity. The police are everyone’s whipping boys and girls these days.

If one assumes Williams was not hoping to arrange a conviction by his denials of a change of venue in a situation that will one day be cited in legal texts as a textbook case for a change of venue, what’s left is a judge hoping for acquittal to prove himself right. He has staked his reputation for judicial judgment and competence on that hope. Only an acquittal would vindicate his repeated claims that the citizens of Baltimore could be relied upon to provide a fair trial, and his stubborn refusal to provide a change of venue regardless of the evidence. Only acquittal could provide a modicum of sociopolitical cover.

Now that he has, in his apparent desperation to avoid a hung jury and a mistrial, fundamentally betrayed the underpinning of the justice system and ensured a reversal, whichever result he truly hopes will prevail, he must do all he can to avoid letting the jury off the hook. After all, he’s already told them to compromise. What’s next? Threats? Begging? Telling the jury they hold the future of Baltimore in their hands?

I’m beginning to have difficulty imagining how this case can become more bizarre. I’m also wondering what else the jurors will see at home tonight.

More lunacy as it develops.

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