Joaquin on the wild side

Increasing rain and wind today, with highs in the low 60s. Windy, with periods of heavy rain tomorrow, and highs shy of 60. We could see 6+ inches of rain in the next couple days from a front system fed by tropical moisture. But wait, there’s more:


Hurricane Joaquin intensified into a major hurricane last night, and is expected to strengthen further before making its way towards the US East Coast. This far out, forecast models still disagree about Joaquin’s expected path, but a landfall near the Chesapeake Bay could happen late Sunday or early Monday. Even if the storm stays off the Mid-Atlantic coast, the local impact may still be substantial. With heavy rain and wind already moving through the area before Joaquin, storm preparations could be tricky and flooding looks to be extremely likely. Some weekend events have already been cancelled.


Some new laws hit the books in Maryland today. Maryland will now make it easier to expunge criminal records for convictions that are no longer a crime (like marijuana possession) and shield certain misdemeanors (disorderly conduct, prostitution, trespassing) from public record. The new laws also make divorce proceedings simpler for couples without children, increase the maximum speed limit permitted for state highways from 65 to 70 mph (the speed limit would still have to be approved on each highway), enable police departments to implement body camera programs, and more.


Police announced that 29-year-old Brian Johnson, shot Tuesday in southwest Baltimore’s Wakefield neighborhood, died from his injuries. Johnson was the 25th Baltimore homicide victim in September, and the 248th of 2015.


In new filings this week, defense attorneys for the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are calling for trials to be moved out of Baltimore (again), and demanding sanctions against prosecutors for holding back critical evidence (again).

This time, the defense is citing recent coverage by The Baltimore Sun that revealed there were inconsistencies in the initial statements given by some of the officers (during the spring, the Sun was allowed to embed a reporter with the police investigation of Gray’s arrest), arguing that this public disclosure taints any potential Baltimore jury pool.

The defense team is also calling for prosecutors to be sanctioned for withholding evidence, complaining that prosecutors only recently shared information that could help the defense. The evidence is question includes an eyewitness account that claims Gray was aggressively kicking and shaking the van, and a 2011 police document calling for a highly visible police presence around the corner where Gray was first chased by police. In previous hearings, Judge Barry Williams ruled that media coverage was not enough to move the trials (“The citizens of Baltimore are not monolithic. They can think for themselves.”) and chided the defense for “unnecessary name-calling and over-the-top rhetoric.”


You can now catch a direct flight from BWI to Havana.