Oct 15, 2015 Freddie Gray homicide trial judge’s portrayal in the Sun does not show the right judicial temperament
If the Baltimore Sun’s October 13, 2015, article is acccurate, the Freddie Gray homicide trial judge Barry Williams is not exhibiting the right judicial temperament nor rulemaking, including:
– Judge Williams has issued an order gagging the lawyers in the case from discussing the case with anyone but their legal teams. That is ludicrous. The only gag order that I was subjected to was an order not to discuss the Snyder v. Westboro Baptist Church case with the media. The First Amendment harm of a a gag order against talking to the media is one thing, the wisdom of which merits a separate blog entry. A gag order to not discuss the case with those outside the legal team deprives the defendants of effective assistance of counsel to brainstorm, dissect and prepare the case with other lawyers and non-lawyers.
– At the evidence suppression hearing, Judge Williams threatened at least two lawyers with contempt of court, apparently in at least one instance simultaneously to stating what was out of bounds in a particular line of cross examination. At least the latter simultaneous contempt warning sounds too hair-trigger, and an imposition at best on the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. How can a lawyer be effective when watching his or her back for an improper summary criminal contempt conviction or subsequent criminal contempt trial?
– At one point Judge Williams shouted “Quiet!” when apparently an objection was merely being addressed.
Particularly to those experienced with Judge Williams, whom I have not observed in person, I welcome your input about today’s blog entry.
All court cases merit a judge fit for the case, including the right judicial temperament and rulings that square with the Constitution and the rest of the governing law. I cannot rely on but one Baltimore Sun article to make up my mind about Judge Williams, other than to outright reject the excessive scope of his gag order. The article raises the above serious questions for me.