Criminal Law Class Observes Proceedings in First Trial of Freddie Gray Case

Upper School students in Tina Forbush’s Criminal Law class observed part of the proceedings yesterday in the trial of William Porter, the first Baltimore City police officer to be tried in the Freddie Gray case. The class — made up of seniors, juniors, and sophomores — has been discussing the case since the beginning of the semester. The course explores the principles of criminal justice and the procedures and laws derived from those principles, and includes observing cases in action in their own city. Last month, the class visited the U.S. Supreme Court to witness arguments in the cases of Lockhart v US and Torres v Lynch.

“I was struck by the work of the lawyers on both sides [at William Porter’s trial] and the arguments they were forming, ones I would have never thought of myself. I found it really interesting to watch how a lawyer would prove their point when questioning a witness, how the defendant would build off of the prosecutor’s questions, and so on,” Leah Fishman ’16 said. “I observed the difficulty of being a juror in the case; the details were endless and the stream of witnesses, while we only saw five, was not letting up. I was also surprised by the small arguments that the lawyers were bringing to the table. They had not yet discussed the actual act of Porter meeting the van with Gray in it, but they were arguing over minute details such as emails and photographs,” Fishman said. 

“The outcome of this specific trial will set the tone for the cases to follow, which makes it one of the most important ones to watch,” Jesse Anderson ’18 said. “I went into the courtroom with an open mind. I obviously had my biases from outside sources, but I tried my best to put them aside when listening to the case unfold…I realized that objectivity is so important in these trials; I can’t just pick and choose facts that point in favor of the prosecution if I want to understand the case from all angles,” Anderson said. 

Forbush also hopes to take more students, including the Upper School’s Black Male and Female Forum groups, to the courthouse to observe subsequent trials early next year.

The Baltimore Sun, NationalJournal, and several other media outlets interviewed Park students at the courthouse yesterday, asking them for their reactions to the proceedings. Below are links to a few of those articles.


Students from the Upper School’s Criminal Law class await entry into the Baltimore courthouse. Photo: NationalJournal

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