Undisclosed podcast to highlight injustices in Keith Davis trial

Journalist fighting court system to air courtroom audio recordings

The case that captured the attention of a city, due mostly to the outspoken advocacy of the defendant’s wife, and the personal nature that tends to be the underlining motivation for one local state’s attorney; will now capture the world’s attention, as one internationally-renowned podcast will dig through the inefficiencies that lie within the case against one local man.

Two dozen members of Baltimore Bloc held a peaceful rally for Keith Davis Jr outside of a fundraiser for City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby Thursday night.

It appears that the podcast Undisclosed, which was previously founded and co-hosted by renowned attorney Rabia Chaudry, making famous the Case Against Adnan Syed, will be focusing their attention on another gross injustice happening within our legal system – the Case(s) Against Keith Davis Jr. This time, former Rolling Stones reporter and contributor to Undisclosed, Amelia McDonell-Parry, will be hosting the series; and she has already caused a stir before one episode has ever been aired.

According to a press release we are posting below, written by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, McDonell-Parry is seeking to release courtroom audio in her upcoming dive into the Davis trials, something that is prohibited in Maryland. In a letter written to the Chief Administrative Judge for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, the Honorable W. Michel Pierson, the attorneys writing the judge argue that the courts refusal to allow her to use the proceedings of the previous trials would violate Mrs. McDonell-Parry’s first amendment rights to a legally obtained transcript.

McDonell-Parry previously served as a co-host for the 2017 Undisclosed podcast surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, and has reportedly move to Baltimore to be able to effectively gather the necessary information needed to properly report on Davis dilemna. Of course Baltimoreans should be familiar with Mr. Davis, and his wife Kelly Davis, who have gone through a legal nightmare since June 7th of 2015 – the day Keith was shot by police (a total of 44-rounds being fired at him) and later charged with 15-counts including assault on the officers who shot at him and armed robbery.

After the illegal cab driver testified that Davis was not the man that robbed him, he was found not guilty on all charges except one, the possession of a firearm that they myseriously found at the scene. The weapon was later identified as the murder weapon of Kevin Jones, which then prompted police and the city’s state’s attorney to charge him with the death of Mr. Jones.  Davis’ initial trial in May 2017 ended in a hung jury, as there were no witnesses to the death of Mr. Jones and no connection between Davis and Jones, other than a gun that his wife and activists from Baltimore BLOC say were planted on him by the police after shooting him.

His second trial saw a new government witness introduced, a jailhouse snitch who testified that Davis admitted to the killing while they were both incarcerated. The testimony of David Gutierrez led to the conviction of Mr. Davis in October of 2017. However less than two months later, the courts overturned that conviction and granted Mr. Davis a new trial after evidence came out that state’s attorney’s office, led by Mrs. Marilyn Mosby, didn’t inform the courts or the defense that Mr. Gutierrez was in fact a cartel hitman who goes around the country testifying against those in high-profiled homicide cases in order to gain lenency from his own convictions.

This halted the celebratory Tweet sent out by Mrs. Mosby who after the initial conviction decided to shout “Victory” to the world, and not the usual message of justice being served. It was then that many onlookers realized that this case had become personal to the newly elected state prosecutor. Davis is scheduled to go back for a third trial on this case later this summer, which may come after several episodes of the Undisclosed podcast will have come out about the case.

Attached here is the letter sent to Judge Pierson, while the Press Release by Georgetown Law is posted below:

[Baltimore, MD] — The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law sent a letter to Baltimore City Circuit Court officials today informing them of journalist Amelia McDonell-Parry’s plans to air courtroom audio recordings in an upcoming podcast.  The letter sets up a potential clash over the constitutionality of a Maryland rule that prohibits “broadcast[ing] any criminal matter, including a trial, hearing, motion, or argument, that is held in trial court.”  Although other states restrict the live-broadcasting of court proceedings, Maryland appears to be unique in prohibiting people from broadcasting publicly available court recordings.

Amelia McDonell-Parry is a local journalist and host of the upcoming season of Undisclosed, an investigative-reporting podcast focused on the criminal-justice system.  The upcoming season, which debuts on April 22, explores the prosecution of Keith Davis, Jr., who has been imprisoned since 2015 on attempted robbery and murder charges.  Davis faces his fourth murder trial, following three prior mistrials, all of which received considerable press attention.  McDonell-Parry will chronicle these legal proceedings from a critical perspective, using excerpts of recordings from Davis’s prior trials to help tell his story.

McDonell-Parry obtained these recordings directly from the court under a provision of Maryland law that requires audio recordings of open-court proceedings to be made “available to any person upon written request.”  In its letter, the Institute asserts McDonell-Parry’s First Amendment right to air lawfully acquired recordings and asks the court to explain why restricting her expression is necessary to “further a state interest of the highest order” (the relevant legal test).

“Maryland allows anyone in the world to obtain audio recordings of criminal trials, but its broadcasting ban stifles public discussion of those very same proceedings,” said McDonell-Parry.

“Baltimore’s court system is a matter of immense public interest, both locally and nationally,” said Nicolas Riley, one of the attorneys who wrote the letter.  “Journalists cannot be punished for trying to shine a light on that system, especially when they are using publicly available recordings to do so.  In a moment of unprecedented attacks on the press, we should be deeply troubled by any efforts to punish journalists for exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Baltimore court officials have previously considered enforcing the rule against other journalists.  Two years ago, the court considered holding the producers of the podcast Serial in contempt for airing audio recordings from the criminal trial of Adnan Syed.

Read the full letter here.

About the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP):

ICAP uses the power of the courts to defend American constitutional rights and values.  Based at Georgetown Law Center, ICAP draws on expert litigators, savvy litigation strategy, and the constitutional scholarship of Georgetown to vindicate individuals’ rights and to protect America’s constitutional way of life.  More information about ICAP can be found at https://www.law.georgetown.edu/icap/.

 About Undisclosed:

The Undisclosed podcast investigates wrongful convictions, and the U.S. criminal justice system, by taking a closer look at the perpetration of a crime, its investigation, the trial, and ultimate verdict . . . and finding new evidence that never made it to court.  More information about Undisclosed can be found at http://undisclosed-podcast.com/.


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