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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

June 4, 2015

Ready for Some High Volume Trials?

Harry M. Covert

Those with news nose sensibilities rank high in getting a jump on monumental decisions by those in authority or their authoritarian positions.

Some may well recall the words of 44 years ago, “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike.” They are apropos at this very time.

Lots of locals remember the recent Baltimore Troubles of a few weeks ago. Keeping count of the murder rate in the state’s largest city, it reached 43 in May. This is not a badge of honor. To make matters even worse, the “first-time” state’s attorney managed an indictment of six police officers for their part in the arrest of Freddie Gray. He died. The “troubles” ensued with national and international condemnation and interest.

All of this activity does indeed affect the citizens of Frederick County. The involvement may well spill over to the people of the county, law abiding, god-fearing and hard-working taxpayers.

Further explanation is deserved here. How will those police officers get a fair trial in the not-too-friendly confines of Baltimore City? It is no secret that the charged police involved can in no way be accorded a fair and equable treatment from any jury or jurors.

That is the point of this treatise.

The word germinating among those in charge of justice for all is charges, no matter how flimsy, unpopular and devastating for the victims and police, is a simple one. The police officers will have to face justice outside of Baltimore.

The word is circulating, too. If Maryland’s highest court agrees to a change of venue or to be clear, a change of courtrooms and localities, don’t be shocked if the Frederick County Circuit Court becomes a beehive of activity and attention throughout the world.

Why would this be such a big deal? Simple. From the moment the officers were charged, arrested, put on leave, Baltimore courts at all levels; attorneys and judges surely knew a new venue would have to be found.

Naturally, the distinguished and respected Frederick Courthouse and the prized citizens come to the fore because of the fairness and goodness of the people.

Now this is not merely public relations schmoozing. Facts are facts. The prosecution would not dare want the trial on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where conservatives reign supreme in most all things. Nor is it likely that the beautiful countryside in Western Maryland would be preferred either.

The word has been leaked. If and when the state’s ranking judicial authority jumps in, fairness for everybody lies within the people and facilities of Frederick.

This will be a highly attended event, not as volatile or frightful if held in Baltimore. But, public attention will be enormous. Security will have to be the best as it already is in the county. There will be a deluge of blood-seeking journalists, print and broadcast, hovering everywhere during the trials. Perhaps the food business in downtown Frederick will boom.

The word is still out there. Locals will have the opportunity to be interviewed. All politicians and wannabes can be at the ready.

For certain, the county’s distinguished state’s attorney, Charlie Smith, won’t have to prosecute the charges brought by the Baltimore persecutor, oops, prosecutor. (An old legal joke).

The usual procedure for venue changes is the local jurisdiction state’s attorneys’ office travels with the case and a judge in that other jurisdiction hears the matter....usually.

There is nothing 'usual' about this case! Nothing formally has been announced. Thus local officials await with bated breath.

Now, who has to protect the public? Yes, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and the Frederick Sheriff’s Office will have that task. They are up to it.

Guessing at this point is the trials could be in September or so.

What was accomplished from the riots in Baltimore? I did see where a congressman’s home was burned a few days past and murders, robberies and drug sales remain in record counts.

To paraphrase the speech, “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed” and in this case, probably to the people of Frederick County.


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