Defense Objects to Prosecution’s Protective Order

During a motion hearing June 18, defense counsel raised multiple objections to the prosecution’s draft of a protective order regarding the disclosure of witness identities.

Alonzo Lewis is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 40-year-old Jaquon Helm and 35-year-old Venius Badgett on the Unit block of Galveston Street, SW in May of 2018. Lewis, 33, is also charged with possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill while armed against a minor and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The prosecution claimed all evidence has been given to the defense and they would continue to hand over any new material. The prosecutor then spoke with DC Superior Court Judge Danya Dayson under seal to explain the need for a protective order.

However, defense attorney, John R. Fowler, questioned a clause in the order that prevents the defense attorney from disclosing witness identities to anyone else at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS).

Judge Dayson suggested removing the clause to prevent future problems.

Fowler agreed, noting that PDS has procedures and counsel to address possible issues.

Fowler said the prosecution is making unfair promises to witnesses about keeping their identities hidden. He said if the case were to go to trial, the names could be released.

The defense also said the wording of the protective order lowered the requirement of the prosecution to make all evidence available, which is required by law. Fowler said he plans to file a motion by the next hearing scheduled on Sept. 20.

But, the prosecutor argued that the defense attorney doesn’t need to discuss the evidence with other attorneys, claiming the clause would prevent future conflicts if any other attorneys are representing one of the witnesses in a different case.

Judge Dayson suggested limiting disclosure at PDS to a practice group that is cleared for conflicts. She didn’t make a determination on whether the protective order would be granted.

Regina Woolridge contributed to this article.