Boston, Baltimore Differ On Witness Intimidation


Boston and Baltimore have taken different approaches to tackling the witness intimidation problem, the Baltimore Sun reports. Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Patricia Jessamy, has pushed for cost-free changes legal changes to permit testimony from witnesses too scared to attend court. Boston’s lead prosecutor has called for a $1 million statewide witness protection program. “When we need to actually protect a witness, it’s going to require funds,” said Daniel F. Conley, district attorney of Suffolk County, which includes Boston. “There’s just no getting around that.”

The Maryland legislation passed Monday night. It was criticized by some politicians and defense attorneys who said it did nothing to protect witnesses – only arming prosecutors with more ways to gain convictions. Next year, some state legislators and Jessamy said they will shift their focus to improving witness protection. Boston officials say uncooperative witnesses are a major reason about two-thirds of last year’s homicides remain unsolved. Conley was surprised to learn from his gang prosecutors that 90 percent of their cases involve intimidation.


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