The long, drawn out battles surround the Freddie Gray trials in Baltimore may seem like a distant memory at this point. Much of daily life in the city has returned to normal, even though the murder rate stayed stubbornly high at 318 for last year. (Shockingly, that’s still down from the 344 they rang up the year before, but far higher than 2014’s level of 211, which was far more typical of the past decade.) With all the trials against the police officers involved in Gray’s arrest and subsequent death having failed or been dismissed, the dust has largely settled. The mayor is on her way to a civilian gig with the DNC.
But there’s one last piece of business to be attended to. There is a pending defamation lawsuit against State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, brought by five of the officers she attempted to prosecute. Mosby’s latest attempt to get the case tossed out ran into a brick wall in court this week when a judge ruled that it can still move forward. (ABC local news)
A federal judge has ruled that a defamation and malicious prosecution lawsuit filed against Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby can go forward.
The lawsuit was filed by five of the six Baltimore Police officers charged in 2015 with the death of Freddie Gray.
The judge ruled that the suit against Mosby and Baltimore City Assistant Sheriff Samuel Cogen can proceed, said Michael Glass, an attorney for Sgt Alicia White and Officer William Porter.
Van driver Officer Caesar Goodson was the only officer who didn’t file a lawsuit.
When the various lawsuits brought against Mosby first began I’ll confess that I expressed doubts over the prospects of success. One of the first was an attempt to have Mosby disbarred, but that one was tossed out before the end of the summer. This defamation and malicious prosecution case didn’t seem like it would fare much better. Typically you don’t ever see a prosecutor losing such a case since the system is loathe to cast a chill over the efforts of prosecutors to bring cases to trial even if they are challenging ones. You’re not going to win every case, and the act of bringing charges is part of their job by definition.
The fact that this one still hasn’t been thrown out may prove the exception to the rule. When Mosby first challenged the suit back in September a judge came back and refused to toss it. One legal analyst in Baltimore who was familiar with the case explained at the time that this was a fairly unique situation. Normally it’s the police and other law enforcement agencies who conduct the initial investigation and they then hand the case off to the prosecutor to take it to trial. But in the Freddie Gray aftermath, Mosby’s office took over and conducted their own investigation and she moved forward based on her own findings. That, at least in the opinion of some observers, may wind up eliminating the normal, de facto immunity that she would enjoy.
At this point Mosby is running out of legal maneuvers to head this off at the pass. Without some significant new development, we may actually be going to trial this year. And if that happens, the media circus will be moving back to Baltimore once again.