It’s a scenario that Dorothy Johnson-Speight hears over and over from members of the group she founded, Mothers in Charge.
Assistant district attorney Douglas Rhoads says he was in Courtroom 608 on an unrelated case when he heard defendant Gerald Andrews talking to the witness, “referring to her as a snitch, and essentially telling her to stop snitching.”
Right now, terrified witnesses are required to appear in open court to testify at preliminary hearings. But a rule change means the DA’s office can instead have witnesses testify in secret before grand juries to establish whether there is enough evidence to bring a suspect to trial in felony cases where witness intimidation is a concern.
Two more jurors have been dismissed from the panel hearing the “Piazza at Schmidt’s” double murder case.
“Snitching” and witness reluctance were the focus of a daylong conference at Community College of Philadelphia.
A group of criminal justice system officials, focusing on Philadelphia, has announced two new initiatives: a best-practices guide book for judges to deal with the pervasive problem of victim-witness threats and intimidation, and a court rule change that will spare victims from coming to court to state the obvious.
by KYW’s John Ostapkovich The City of Philadelphia has put up $200,000 for witness protection, a move with both practical and symbolic effects.