Don't look now, but that lawsuit against Marilyn Mosby is still moving forward

Here’s a name which is something of a blast from the past these days: Marilyn Mosby. Those who followed the Freddie Gray case closely probably remember her as the State’s Attorney for Baltimore who initially decided to bring charges against the six police officers involved in the arrest and subsequent death of the suspect. That ill fated maneuver was already blowing up in her face long before the charges fell apart and the final trials of the officers in question were cancelled. Some of the officers who were in her sights fought back, bringing suit against her for defamation, wrongful arrest and a pile of other complaints. Mosby sought to have the entire case dismissed multiple times, but her latest challenge (which sought to prevent discovery of office records) was once again tossed out by the judge last week and the process will move forward. (City Paper)

A lawsuit against Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, brought by the police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death, will go forward, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Judge Marvin Garbis denied Mosby’s motion for a stay of all discovery in the case. That means Mosby may have to turn over evidence, including internal emails, to the plaintiffs.

Much of the judge’s ruling rests on the fact that the plaintiffs also sued Major Samuel Cogen of the Sheriff’s Department, who signed off on the charges Mosby’s office prepared.

This probably sounds like a rather dry, technical maneuver in terms of how court proceedings generally play out, but it was an important one. The plaintiffs (the cops in this case) have been seeking all of the departmental correspondence which went into the decision to prosecute them, including emails and other related records. Mosby had been attempting to argue that those records should be sealed and not subject to discovery because they were “unnecessary” and could cause “irreparable injury” to Mosby’s professional reputation and ability to do her job. Unfortunately for her, a parallel suit against a county sheriff’s department generated the same sort of discovery request and the materials were already turned over, so the judge rejected Mosby’s claim entirely.

As I’ve been saying for the past year or more, this case is still anything but a slam dunk for the cops. While they clearly have a case to make in the forum of public opinion it’s difficult to convince a court that such a claim is valid. What Mosby did looked for all the world like a political stunt designed to placate the masses and possibly enhance her own fortunes in a future political career, but she brought those charges as part of her normal duties. Prosecutors are almost never convicted of such a thing, if only to prevent sending a chilling message to other prosecutors and making them less likely to take cases to trial. A finding against her would be nearly unprecedented.

Still, we’ll need to wait for this final chapter in the strange case of Freddie Gray to be written before we can close the book entirely. I’m guessing that it’s one which will be studied in law schools for generations to come.