Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Marylanders search for answers about Goodson’s bench trial

Searches for the term "bench trial" jumped from zero to 10 percent of Maryland's searches on Monday, following Goodson's choice to waive his right to trial by jury.

Searches for the term “bench trial” jumped from zero to 10 percent of Maryland’s searches on Monday, following Goodson’s choice to waive his right to trial by jury.

Wondering what the difference is between a bench trial and a jury trial?

Don’t worry — you’re not alone.

Thanks to the news earlier today that Officer Caesar Goodson opted to have his case heard by a judge instead of a jury, Marylanders have boosted the term “bench trial” to 10 percent of the state’s Google searches, up from virtually zero earlier this week, according to Google.

The van driver who transported Freddie Gray isn’t the first to choose to avoid going in front of a jury. Officer Edward Nero also elected to have a bench trial, which resulted in his acquittal of the charges against him. On May 10, when Nero decided to have his case heard by a judge, “bench trial” again jumped from virtually zero a few days before to 10 percent of Maryland’s Google searches.

Goodson, who faces the most serious charges of all six defendants, will be tried before Judge Barry Williams (who also presided over Nero’s trial) starting Thursday.

Due to the complicated legal issues surrounding the arrest of Freddie Gray and the charges against the officers, experts say choosing a bench trial is a smart decision, as the case is best dealt with by a “more sophisticated fact-finder.”