This time, it’s not just the defendants in the Freddie Gray homicide questioning the conduct of prosecutor Marilyn Mosby. The defense has already submitted a demand for the removal of Mosby and her office from the case, citing a series of alleged conflicts of interest. But it’s Mosby’s appearance on stage with Prince that has former supporters starting to wonder about her judgment:
The latest wave of criticism comes after the state’s attorney for Baltimore took the stage Sunday with Prince during a “Rally4Peace” concert in honor of Gray, who died of spinal injuries following his arrest on a knife charge last month. Mosby reportedly received the concert tickets as a Mother’s Day gift from her husband.
As you’d imagine, the appearance sparked a range of reactions, from the much-ado-about-nothing sort to those questioning how she could possibly prosecute the officers after she attended the concert in honor of the victim. Twitter, of course, was rife with wanton attacks on her character.
“Wanton attacks“? CNN’s Eliot McLaughlin opts for the ridiculously dramatic, especially when the most “wanton” of these “attacks” McLaughlin can produce for his story is a New Jersey tweeter who called her “incompetent,” and photoshopped a dunce cap onto Mosby’s picture. How wanton of that critic!
By the way, Oxford Dictionaries defines “wanton” as a “deliberate and unprovoked … cruel or violent action.” Criticizing a public official for a publicity stunt hardly meets the tests of unprovoked, cruel, or violent … but hey, it was deliberate. Close enough for mainstream-media work.
Besides, as McLaughlin notes, the attacks didn’t all come from Mosby’s usual critics:
One of the more interesting responses came from a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Laura Coates.
Coates had previously been one of Mosby’s defenders — that is, until the Prince appearance.
In what appears to be a reaction to hearing the news, Coates took to Twitter to ask if she heard correctly that Mosby actually went on stage with the pop star and added the admonition, “Tsk tsk.”
A few minutes later, Coates expanded on that thought:
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) May 11, 2015
For someone who’s already been blasted for using the Gray case to elevate her public profile, Mosby appears rather indiscreet about stage-hogging this week. The tickets to the show were reportedly a gift from her husband, a Baltimore city councilman who may be eyeing the next mayoral race, which makes this supposedly extemporaneous act look even more staged. If Mosby draws a judge inclined to scrutinize the prosecutors for grandstanding, she may find herself out of the Gray case faster than one can sing “Let’s Go Crazy.” Even if the stated conflicts of interest aren’t compelling enough for removal, the public antics of Mosby could tip the decision against her.
Perhaps that would be the best outcome anyway. The judge could appoint a special prosecutor, or perhaps assign it to the Criminal Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s office. The latter would allow the people to retain accountability from elected public officials while perhaps offering a little more objective perspective on the charges related to the Gray case. The last thing Baltimore needs is a publicity-seeking prosecutor who overpromises and underdelivers to a city already on edge.