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State urges appellate court to uphold order on Porter testimony

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General has encouraged an appellate court to uphold Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams’ order that Officer William Porter testify against other officers on trial for their role in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

Porter’s attorneys appealed Williams’ ruling, which granted their client use and derivative use immunity for testimony at the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson, claiming Porter’s right against self-incrimination would be seriously impacted by forcing his testimony.

Joseph Murtha and Gary E. Proctor, representing Porter, claim Porter is not an ordinary witness under the state’s immunity statute because of his position as a defendant with pending manslaughter charges. Porter’s case ended in a mistrial in December. A new trial is scheduled for June.

The state’s reply brief to the Court of Special Appeals argues that the prosecution in the case “did nothing improper, unethical or unprecedented” in asking the judge to grant immunity to a witness.

Prosecutors will have to prove that none of its evidence at Porter’s retrial in June is tainted by immunized testimony, according to the brief, and none of Porter’s complaints about his particular circumstances “render the immunity conferred by [Maryland law] insufficient.”

The appellate case is Caesar Goodson v. State of Maryland, No. 2308/15.

Goodson’s trial, scheduled to start last month, has been stayed pending the outcome of Porter’s appeal.