BALT Webinar | How to Provide Legal Support to Grassroots Organizations

On Thursday, July 25th, BALT hosted a webinar entitled How to Provide Support to Grassroots Organizations.  Dorcas Gilmore, co-Founder of BALT and visiting professor at University of Maryland School of Law was joined by Prof. Renee Hatcher of The John Marshall Law School and Prof. Susan Bennet of American University Washington College of Law.

During the webinar, the panelists identified shared features of grassroots organizations to connect those characteristics to organizational representation, discussed key elements and distinctions in organizational representation and tools to work with grassroots organizations.

BALT Files Lawsuit Challenging Maryland Ban on Broadcasting Criminal Trial Proceedings

A group of journalists and community organizations has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a Maryland law that prohibits people from broadcasting recordings of criminal trial proceedings.  The lawsuit is the latest in an ongoing effort to oppose § 1-201 of Maryland’s Code of Criminal Procedure.  That provision makes it illegal to broadcast a recording of any criminal “trial, hearing, motion, or argument” held in a trial court, including recordings that were lawfully obtained from court itself.

The plaintiffs argue that § 1-201 violates the First Amendment by barring them from disseminating accurate depictions of public court proceedings.  Two of the plaintiffs, journalists Brandon Soderberg and Baynard Woods, hope to use trial recordings in future reporting and in an upcoming documentary about a now-defunct Baltimore police unit whose members were indicted on federal racketeering charges in 2017.  Soderberg and Woods lawfully purchased trial recordings directly from the courthouse but are hesitant to use them in their film because of § 1‑201’s broadcasting ban.

Informing the Community | Update on Revising BPD's Use of Force Policy

In accordance with the consent decree, DOJ and BPD are seeking input on BPD policies.  Although the initial comment period has expired for BPD's Use of Force policy, BALT has provided feedback on the latest draft of the policy.  DOJ’s draft policy revisions for Policy 1115 Use of Force mostly address BALT’s initial recommendations for BPD policy reform.

BALT calls on the BPD to implement de-escalation techniques and training, improve crisis intervention and response, and increase transparency and accountability.