Ivan Bates sworn in as Baltimore state’s attorney, immediately reinstates prosecution of low-level offenses

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Longtime defense lawyer Ivan Bates was sworn in Tuesday as Baltimore’s top prosecutor, pledging that the city State’s Attorney’s Office’s first new administration in eight years would reform the city’s violent crime fight.

Bates, who won the Democratic primary in July and ran uncontested in November’s general election, assumes the post from Marilyn Mosby, who served two, four-year terms as state’s attorney.


He distinguished himself from his predecessor with some of his first words in office, proclaiming during his inaugural address that his assistant state’s attorneys would resume prosecuting the low-level offenses Mosby stopped taking to court. Bates also touted a tough stance on illegal guns, saying he would bring in attorney reinforcements to an office battered by attrition.

“Baltimore, it’s time to change the way we do things in this city,” Bates told the crowd gathered inside the city’s War Memorial building. “Our administration is ready to get to work.”


Bates was taken to the hospital between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Tuesday morning for dehydration, “out of an abundance of caution,” said James Bentley, the new state’s attorney’s office spokesman. Bates was released and attended his swearing-in ceremony on time, describing himself as energized.

On a stage with the city’s ranking politicians and law enforcement officials, Bates approached the lectern with his two daughters and his father, Henry B. Bates Jr., who held Bates’ late mother’s Bible. Bates placed his hand on the Bible and repeated the oath of office administered by retired Baltimore Circuit Judge David B. Mitchell, who Bates clerked for after graduating from William & Mary Law School in 1995.

The audience, composed of sitting and retired judges, lawyers, clergy, community leaders and elected officials, erupted when Bates was declared state’s attorney.

Bates’ victory in the July primary capped his second run for the office, after he was defeated handily by Mosby in 2018.

A city prosecutor from 1996 to 2002 in the administration of Patricia Jessamy, Bates opened his own law firm, Bates & Garcia P.C., in 2006. His law partner, Tony Garcia, told The Baltimore Sun last month that he will assume control of the practice.

Garcia, retired Baltimore Chief Circuit Judge Wanda Keyes Heard and former city Deputy State’s Attorney Haven Kodeck, both Bates supporters, gave remarks about the soon-to-be state’s attorney before he was sworn in.

“He will not be outworked. He will not be outsmarted. He will not be outmatched,” Garcia said Tuesday.

Garcia said he expected Bates to make good on his campaign promise to bring experienced attorneys to the prosecutor’s office.


Less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to give an inaugural address at the War Memorial, Bates announced his leadership team.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Bates said the people he chose to lead his administration “best embody the integrity and character I plan to bring back” to the city prosecutor’s office. He said his leadership team will “directly support” his mission to “restore the office to its former prominence in the fight to make Baltimore a safer city for all.”

According to Bates’ announcement, this will be his command staff:

  • His chief of staff will be Angela Galeano, who was a Baltimore prosecutor for about four years beginning in 2010 and most recently served as chief of staff and associate counsel at Coppin State University.
  • Catherine Flynn will be the office’s chief operating officer. A widely respected defense attorney who’s been practicing in Baltimore for 30 years, she has never been a prosecutor. Flynn was Bates’ campaign treasurer.
  • Gregg Solomon-Lucas, a career prosecutor who has been with the State’s Attorney’s Office since 1994, will serve as one of two deputy state’s attorneys. Solomon-Lucas has led the office’s Domestic Violence Division and most recently was the Drug Treatment Court prosecutor.
  • Bates’ other deputy state’s attorney is Thomas Donnelly. Having worked in private practice for 16 years, Donnelly was an assistant state’s attorney for less than four years beginning in 2002.

Bates is slated to earn $238,722, while Galeano, Flynn, Solomon-Lucas and Donnelly will each make a salary of $167,000, said Bentley, who previously served as a spokesman with the city’s Department of Public Works and, more recently, Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott’s office.

Bates was expected to go to the state’s attorney’s office at Truist Place for the first time as the top prosecutor Tuesday.

Ivan Bates is surrounded by well-wishers after being sworn in as state’s attorney at Baltimore’s War Memorial.

On the campaign trail, Bates rolled out an extensive prosecution plan that he believes will bring down violent crime. The plan featured mostly tough-on-crime policies, but detailed alternatives to incarceration for low-level crimes. It also emphasized training for line prosecutors and collaboration among law enforcement agencies, areas Bates said his predecessor neglected.


Bates promptly revoked Mosby’s policy not to prosecute offenses like drug possession, prostitution and trespassing — cases Mosby stopped pursuing because she said they disproportionately targeted Black residents from disenfranchised communities.

Bates said he intends to connect people charged with such offenses to resources rather than incarcerate them, even though such diversion programs follow an arrest and jail term, however brief.

“We will not go back to the era of mass incarceration,” Bates said Tuesday.

David Jaros, faculty director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, described Bates’ remarks on low-level offenses as “distressing,” saying they amounted to “relying on the criminal justice system to solve social problems that are the result of decades of poverty and poor investment in the community.”

“It sounds like a return to the kind of broken windows policing that led to mass incarceration and didn’t improve public safety for years,” Jaros told The Sun. “My hope is that this is not that, but certainly this is not an auspicious beginning to this administration.”

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Bates promised Tuesday to prioritize the safety of residents above all else and said, as he did on the campaign trail, that he will target illegal guns. His prosecution plan featured a multifaceted approach to cracking down on illegal guns in Baltimore, including reorganizing units within the office and leveraging federal prosecutions of gun offenses.


“If a person in Baltimore is caught with an illegal handgun on the streets of Baltimore, we will ask that they go to jail — first time, third time, it doesn’t matter. We are asking for jail,” Bates said Tuesday.

He said his administration wouldn’t offer plea deals for people arrested for bringing illegal guns into the city or selling ghost guns. If the person is convicted at trial, Bates said, his administration will seek the maximum penalty.

Jaros expressed concerns over a one-size-fits-all policy for certain types of cases.

“Each case is unique and I would hope that their office would look at the circumstances,” he said. “Whether a person was carrying a gun to do harm or whether they were scared and it was to protect themselves or whether they were young and thought it was cool, the state’s actions should be tailored to the defendant.”

Bates’ prosecution plan did not include a timeline or identify a way to measure success, but Bates has stated repeatedly that he believes it could take as long as a decade to rebuild the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“Changing the way we fight crime is going to take time,” Bates said Tuesday. “It’s not a quick fix.”