Legal Scholars Divided Over Criticism of Marilyn Mosby

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The cases brought against six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the 2015 death of Freddie Gray have so far resulted in a steady string of prosecution defeats.

Just how much fault lies with Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her decision to pursue criminal convictions is a question dividing legal scholars.

On one end is George Washington University public-interest law professor John F. Banzhaf III, who has filed attorney misconduct complaints against Ms. Mosby and two of her deputies over their handling of the Freddie Gray cases.

Mr. Banzhaf’s grievance complaints with the Maryland’s Attorney Grievance Commission accuse Ms. Mosby of appearing to violate professional conduct rules for lawyers. Likening the Freddie Case charges to the prosecutorial misconduct scandal in the Duke lacrosse case, Mr. Banzhaf says the charges brought by Ms. Mosby were clearly unwarranted and more glaringly so after the early acquittals.

The complaints lodged by the professor cite rules requiring prosecutors to “refrain from prosecuting a charge unless it is supported by probable cause, and national standards which establish that a prosecution should proceed only if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a conviction.”

On the other end is Harvard University criminal law professor Ronald S. Sullivan, who says the intense criticism of Ms. Mosby and her prosecution team is “wholly unfounded.” In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, Mr. Sullivan portrays Ms. Mosby’s critics as bullies. He writes:

Ms. Mosby has exercised her prosecutorial discretion equally with respect to all citizens. Yet many condemn her nonetheless…A threatened ethics probe and sharp criticism from elites who rarely experience the criminal justice system is a naked attempt to bully a chief prosecutorial officer into treating certain accused lawbreakers different from others.

Mr. Banzhaf posted a comment in response to the op-ed. “It appears that the professor has not read the complaint which actually lists several different ethical violations — one of which has already been found by the judge,” he wrote, referring to reports of the judge overseeing the trials rebuking the prosecution team for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense.

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Source: Wall Street Journal | JACOB GERSHMAN