A key decision early on in the Freddie Gray case may have cost the prosecution a conviction.
After Gray’s death, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the six Baltimore cops involved, but many legal experts criticized her response as hasty. So far, two officers have been acquitted, including the van driver, who many believed was the best shot at getting a guilty verdict. Another officer’s trial was declared a mistrial and will be retried, which means Mosby’s office has four tough cases ahead of it.
Mosby’s office brought charges against all six officers in the case only after conducting its own investigation into the death. Initial reactions in the legal community indicated the charges could be overreaching. Rene Sandler, a Maryland attorney and former prosecutor, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Mosby made a legal mistake that cost her — big time. She says instead of relying on her office’s own investigation, Mosby should have used a grand jury to thoroughly investigate the case.
“I would say her rush to judgment in determining that ‘her’ investigation supported the probable cause necessary to charge these officers rather than fully utilizing the grand jury process likely resulted in the loss of a conviction,” Sandler told TheDCNF. “Mosby has publicly stated that she made her decision to file criminal charges against the officers based on an ‘independent’ investigation done by her office. Had she utilized the grand jury fully to investigate, the grand jury may have declined the indictment rather than to indict after having been presented with a self-serving investigation done by her own office.”
Grand juries have two main functions: an investigatory capacity to gather evidence and find the facts on its own, or to hear evidence from a prosecutor and then decide whether to indict. Sandler says Mosby should have used the grand jury’s investigative powers instead of doing a hurried independent investigation. The grand jury may have turned up new evidence that could have helped the prosecution.
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