Alan Dershowitz on Freddie Gray Charges: 'This is a Show Trial'

"This is a very sad day for justice."

On Saturday, renowned civil rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz told NewsMax TV that the criminal charges filed against the six Baltimore police officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray were based on "crowd control" and "had nothing to do with justice." He predicted that the case will likely be thrown out for lack of evidence. 

"This is a very sad day for justice," he said on The Steve Malzberg Show. Referring to the day the charges were announced, he said that "Today was crowd control. Everything was motivated by a threat of riots and a desire to prevent riots," and that's "not the job of the justice system," Dershowitz continued. "You cannot allow police officers or any other defendants to become scapegoats for crowds demanding a continuation of rioting."

He went on to suggest that the charges essentially meant that the defendants are guilty until proven innocent:

The mayor outrageously said we're going to get justice for the victim, the family and people of Baltimore, never mentioning the defendants. Under our Constitution, the only people who are entitled to justice are the defendants.

They are presumed innocent, they need due process of law, and the mayor and the state attorney have made it virtually impossible for these defendants to get a fair trial. They have been presumed guilty.

There's no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts that we now know them. You might say that conceivably there's a case for manslaughter. Nobody wanted this guy to die, nobody set out to kill him, and nobody intentionally murdered him.

The worst-case scenario is a case for involuntary manslaughter or some kind of reckless disregard, but the idea of without further investigation coming down with murder indictments... This is a show trial. This is designed to please the crowd. It's designed to lower the temperature.

Dershowitz added that the charges did not meet the criteria for justice in the United States:

It may have been the criteria in Rome, for Fidel Castro, in Iran, and in other countries, but in our country you don't base indictments on what impact it's going to have on the crowd.

You base it on a hard, neutral, objective view of the evidence, and it doesn't look like that was done here... They have invited a mess. What they did is they bartered short-term results today for long-term problems in the future.

His conclusion is that the prosecution has "overplayed their hand, it's unlikely they'll get any convictions in this case as a result of this, and if they do, there's a good possibility it'll be reversed on appeal and will just postpone the riots for months ahead."