3 Baseless Critiques Of Marilyn Mosby

Wednesday marks the first day of pre-trial motions against the six officers handed charges in relation to Freddie Gray's April death. Attorneys representing the officers are expected to make three chief requests from the judge: a dismissal of all charges, a change in venue, and the removal of the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, from the case. On the first day of May this year, Mosby became something of a national hero on when she publicly announced the charges each of the six officers were going to be facing, saying: "I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace.' Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man." The charges range from second-degree depraved-heart murder to manslaughter to second-degree murder.

At 35, Mosby is the youngest state's attorney of a major city in the country. She had been in office for just under 100 days when she brought these charges against the officers. The officers' defense team immediately sought to have her removed from the case on the basis that her involvement is a conflict of interest. (I'll get into this later.)

Throughout the summer, Mosby's harshest critics took to the media to point fingers in her direction, blaming her for the behavior of Baltimore City's criminals and entire police force. So let's review the accusations made by these critics, who are former members of the local Maryland government, and examine their authenticity.

I'll start with a statement made by former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who, in the days following Mosby's May 1 announcement, accused her of polarizing the city's police force by essentially frightening them out of conducting their duties as officers of the law.

Mosby And Baltimore's Police

First of all, this accusation was counterintuitive (doesn't it seem like he's giving officers a reason not to do their jobs?). Second of all, he clearly forgot about the significant unrest within the city's police force at the time.

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Here's the deal: Baltimore City police officers felt they were thrown under the bus by their own leader, former Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. On May 26, Batts apologized to the police union for having put officers in harm's way during the protests. Specifically, he said he'd failed to follow his own intuition that problems were indeed about to surface in the city; as a result, officers were hurt. Already by this point, the relationship between Batts and rank-and-file officers was strained. One member of the police force was later quoted in a report released in July (coincidentally, on the same day as Batts' termination) that police officers "were basically marched out in the street and lined up in front of the increasingly angry mob of people."

So, no, Mosby was not responsible for the police who stopped performing their duties in the wake of the protests; the police were responsible. Mosby was simply doing her job. And no matter how many different ways words are twisted and the blame is presented, the bottom line is, in the end, the police made the decision to stop doing theirs.

Mosby And Baltimore's Violence

Mosby was again accused for the misdeeds of the masses when former Baltimore City prosecutor Roya Hanna claimed in an Aug. 12 Baltimore Sun op-ed that Mosby had a role in the city's increase in violence. Whereas Maryland Gov. Ehrlich claimed Mosby was responsible for the behavior of the entire police force, Hanna blamed Mosby for the behavior of Baltimore City's criminals. First, Ms. Hanna focused on Mosby's restriction of the Homicide Review Commission, a commission designated to examining closed homicide cases originally put in place by Hanna during her stint as state prosecutor.

Hanna, however, never once made it clear in the entirety of her op-ed what, precisely, the dissolution of the HRC had to do with the city's recent uptick in violence. She just seemed to be... venting. Hanna then went on to accuse Mosby of aiding criminals by offering certain offenders "light plea offers." These certain offenders are non-violent offenders.

In a response to Hanna's op-ed published by The Baltimore Sun on Aug. 18, Julie A. Drake, a former city prosecutor and division chief, countered Hanna's second argument by reminding readers that Mosby's original campaign for office focused on getting the small number of violent, repeat offenders off the streets. As Drake wrote, Mosby has maintained that goal by reorganizing priority in her office to shift away from harsh persecution of non-violent offenders, offering them instead the option of drug and/or mental health treatment.

Now, onto the officers' defense team and why they're requesting Mosby's recusal.

Mosby and the Freddie Gray case

In the immediate days following Mosby's May 1 indictment announcement, the officers' attorneys sought to have her removed from the trial, specifying her involvement as a conflict of interest. One of their justifications for Mosby's recusal relies on the state attorney's "close friendship" with Gray family attorney, Billy Murphy. At one point during her campaign for state's attorney's office, Mosby had accepted a $4,000 donation from Mr. Murphy.

Here's why this recusal justification is bogus: Mosby’s chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, was quick to point out that the Fraternal Order of Police also gave Mosby’s campaign nearly as much money as Murphy did – $3,250. He then called the defense’s "idea that Murphy’s slightly larger contribution made Mosby indebted to him was laughable."

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The defense team also accused Mosby of charging the officers with "baseless crimes" to prevent further rioting from happening in her husband, City Councilman Nick Mosby's, district. Schatzow responded to this claim by it "a truly breathtaking non-sequitur." He stated he believed the "'defendants offer nothing beyond speculation' as to why the Mosbys would be any different from any other law-abiding Baltimore resident in seeking 'peace and an end to violence.'"

Unrest in Baltimore City once again reared its head on Wednesday with a run-in between police and protesters. And rightfully so. Officers of the law nationwide are not typically charged harshly, if at all, for their roles in the deaths of young black men. On Tuesday, a white ex-police chief in South Carolina got "home detention" as his punishment for shooting an unarmed black man. There is a lot at stake with the Freddie Gray trial.

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Frankly, the critics of Marilyn Mosby are most likely afraid of the precedents she and the trial itself could set.

Image: The Baltimore Sun