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In the Media: Officer Nero Found Not Guilty of All Charges; Hogan Signs Equal Pay Law

The six Baltimore Police officers charged in Freddie Gray's homicide.
Baltimore City Police Department

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Freddie Gray case: Officer Nero found not guilty of all charges

"Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Monday acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

"The judgment, following a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely-watched case. Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

"Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero's role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.

"Nero leaned forward after the verdict was read, and wiped his eyes. He hugged his attorneys.

"Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December.

"The next trial in the case will be that of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, the driver of the van used to transport Gray. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13)."

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From the AFRO: Maryland Gov. signs equal pay law

"Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan this week signed legislation that strengthens the state’s equal pay law. 

"The bill increases transparency, shining a light on possible pay disparities by prohibiting businesses from penalizing employees who disclose or discuss their salary. 

"The measure also buttresses anti-discrimination statutes in the existing Equal Pay for Equal Work law by also barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

"Civil, women’s and LGBT rights advocates praise Maryland’s efforts, which mirror efforts nationwide such as the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for workers to challenge unequal pay. 

“'All workers in Maryland and across the United States deserve to be paid fairly for their work, and this commonsense measure represents welcome progress on that front,' said Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Jocelyn Frye in a statement. 'These provisions will provide a critical protection to vulnerable communities, particularly transgender individuals who face significant wage disparities and workplace discrimination, and foster more understanding and openness in pay practices.'

"Despite advocacy effort at the federal, state and local level, the gender wage gap continues to be a pervasive problem in the United States, which activists say undermines the economic stability of women and their families. 

"In Maryland, for example, men who work full-time positions on average earn about $8,604 more annually than women on average. Put another way: women in Maryland are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Nationally, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. 

"Among women of color the inequity is even worse. Among Maryland women who hold full-time, year-round jobs, African-American women are paid 69 cents, Latinas are paid 47 cents and Asian women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to White men. Nationally, African-American women earning 60 cents for every dollar earned by White men and Native-American women and Latinas earning only 59 cents and 55 cents, respectively." 

Full Article

From the Washington Post: Medical marijuana advocates frustrated by slow pace in Maryland

"Maryland’s state medical marijuana commission delivered a blow to marijuana advocates and would-be entrepreneurs last week by abruptly capping the number of businesses that can process marijuana into pills, oils and other products.

"The commission also gave conflicting information about when the first long-awaited growing licenses would be issued, with Executive Director Patrick Jameson first saying it would be late summer or early fall, then stating that licenses would come “weeks” after the evaluations of the applications are completed in early July.

"At the commission’s first public meeting in months, marijuana advocates and entrepreneurs complained about the slow pace and the secrecy of the process.

“'We have been waiting patiently for the commission to do its work, but every day is a challenge when you’re watching your child seize, fall behind in school and lose ground,' said Jennifer Porcari, who has fought for years for access to medical cannabis to treat her child’s epilepsy. 'We ask you to remember that the work of this commission is to help Marylanders and children like our daughter.'

"An analysis by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project found Maryland to be among the slowest states to get its approved cannabis program up and running. The commission was supposed to start awarding licenses to grow marijuana for medical use in January. But the commission received applications from twice as many businesses as it anticipated, and the timetable has changed several times. Executive Director Hannah Byron abruptly announced her resignation in December and wasn’t replaced until this month.

"The delays are costing businesses money, entrepreneurs and their allies said. “There are applicants who have lost financing; there are applicants who have lost options on leases; there are applicants who are paying mortgages on buildings that they acquired with an expectation originally of [licenses being awarded in] January,” said Terrence McAndrews, an Ellicott City attorney."

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