Hearing on Porter testimony scheduled for March

Posted at 2:12 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 07:57:14-05

A hearing on whether Baltimore Police Officer William Porter should be forced to testify in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White will be held at the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on March 4.

Porter and Goodson are two of six Baltimore officers charged with the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray.

While everything is currently on hold in the case against Caesar Goodson, the Court of Special Appeals set deadlines for each side to file legal briefs and set the early March date to hear oral arguments.

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Each side in the appellate case usually gets about 20 minutes in front of a panel of three judges. While that schedule may seem long to some, attorneys tell us that is a rather aggressive timeline for the state's second highest court.

Legal scholars say from the beginning, it is surprising the Court of Special Appeals even took up the issue this early in the prosecution of the six police officers.

"The appeals court typically waits until a trial has taken place and only where there is a conviction will the court use its limited resources. Here we see a proactive court that is not only taking the issue but is going beyond the motions that have already been submitted that tell each side's argument," said University of Maryland Law Professor Doug Colbert.

Colbert adds the intervention also slows down the momentum of prosecution, and it could be by a lot because once arguments are heard, there is no telling when a ruling will be handed down.

While there is a law that dictates a three-month time limit, many attorneys wait much longer for a decision from Maryland's appellate courts.

Once a decision is rendered, it usually takes another 30 days before the court issues the mandate which, in essence, makes the ruling firm.

After a mandate is issued, the losing side would have 15 days to file an appeal with the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

It could be months to resolve the issue of whether or not the state can force Officer William Porter to testify against Officer Caesar Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White.

At Porter’s trial, which ended with a hung jury in December, his attorneys repeatedly tried to shift the blame for Gray’s death to Goodson.

While Goodson’s trial is delayed, Alicia White’s case could be also. White's trial is currently scheduled to begin Feb. 8.

WMAR Staff contributed to this report.

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