In June 1996, Jerry Golding’s wife called 911 from their home in Goochland County, Virginia, threatening suicide. A sheriff arrived at Golding’s house and found a gun stowed under the bed. After obtaining a warrant, he returned to the house and found ammunition and a small amount of marijuana. Golding, a convicted felon, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. Golding’s wife claimed the gun and ammunition were hers and was prepared to testify to that at trial. Right before the trial, however, the prosecutor approached Golding’s wife and threatened to charge her with marijuana possession if she testified for Golding. Later, during the trial, the prosecutor repeatedly referred to the fact that Golding’s wife did not testify, implying that this was a sign of Golding’s guilt. In January 1999, a jury convicted Golding of possession of a firearm, and he was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
Golding appealed his conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In February 1999, the circuit court vacated Golding’s conviction, and ordered a new trial because of the prosecutor’s misconduct in threatening Golding’s wife and then improperly suggesting that her decision not to testify indicated that Golding was guilty. In April 1999, at the government’s request, a United States District Court judge dismissed the indictment.
- Stephanie Denzel