Judge Says Mayor Schaaf Doesn't Have to Testify in Ghost Ship Trial

The judge in the trial of Ghost Ship warehouse master tenant Derick Almena and creative director Max Harris on Thursday decided that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf should not be ordered to testify.

Harris' lawyer Curtis Briggs contended earlier this week that Schaaf is "a material and crucial witness in this case" and that if she doesn't testify Harris would be deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to present a defense.

Schaaf's attorney argued that the mayor had no direct knowledge of the warehouse prior to the deadly fire.

On Thursday, protesters holding signs that read "Free Max Marris" and "Max Harris is innocent" stood outside the Alameda County Courthouse in support of the defendant.

Almena, 48, and Harris, 29, are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fire during a music party at the warehouse at 1309 31st Ave. on Dec. 2, 2016.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin next Tuesday and their trial tentatively is scheduled to start on April 30 with opening statements.

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