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Crime

All 6 of Marilyn Mosby’s defense lawyers ask to be removed from case

The six defense attorneys representing former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby against federal mortgage fraud and perjury charges asked Thursday to be removed from her case.

Mosby’s lead attorney, A. Scott Bolden, and three others from his firm — Rizwan Qureshi, Kelley Miller and Anthony Todd, all of Reed Smith LLP — said that an order from U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby that found Bolden violated the Maryland rules governing attorney conduct created a conflict of interest for them.

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At a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Griggsby ordered Bolden to explain in writing by Jan. 31 why she shouldn’t hold him in criminal contempt of court for using profanity to criticize the court, why he divulged confidential juror information in a legal motion, and why he filed that same motion without a Maryland lawyer’s signature. Based in Washington, D.C., Bolden is not licensed to practice in Maryland and needs to co-file all papers with someone who is, per the court’s rules of attorney conduct.

Reached by phone, Bolden declined to comment Thursday evening.

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Mosby did not return phone calls or text messages seeking comment.

Mosby, a Democrat who served two, four-year terms as state’s attorney ending earlier this month, is charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications for down payments on a pair of properties in Florida.

Her attorneys said in the filing she consented to their withdrawing from her defense. Griggsby has to approve the lawyers’ request to withdraw from the case.

Attorneys Lucius Outlaw and Gary Proctor, who joined the defense team over the summer, also asked Griggsby for permission to back out of the case. The filing said Outlaw and Proctor, who each operate their own law practices, joined Mosby’s defense in support roles and are not able to accommodate being lead defense lawyers in her case. Outlaw is also a full-time law professor at Howard University.

“The motion does not change my belief in Marilyn Mosby’s innocence,” Outlaw told The Baltimore Sun.

Proctor declined to comment.

Outspoken from the onset of Mosby’s case, Bolden aggressively defended his client’s innocence — claiming she was the target of racist and political prosecution — and has admitted he’s over-zealous at times. His representation reached its zenith in mid-September, when moments after the case was postponed for a second time, he stood on the courthouse steps and called the delay “bulls***,” while also suggesting that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland was targeting African American government employees for prosecution. He apologized for the profanity in court the next day.

Defense attorney Warren Brown, who is not involved in the case but has decades of courtroom experience, said he thinks Bolden’s personality overshadowed Mosby’s legal dilemma, and possibly hurt her with potential jurors.

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“I don’t think he’s been strategic in the manner in which he’s met the public, through the press, about this case,” Brown said. “The bombast, the flowered lapel pins — he becomes the focus and that’s not really helpful.”

The reason Bolden would withdraw from the case is because he may no longer feel he can properly represent his client with possible criminal punishment hanging over his own head, said David Jaros, faculty director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform.

“While it’s not an inherent conflict, there are reasons to be concerned and you certainly wouldn’t want the attorney to be reluctant to challenge the decisions of the judge and argue on behalf of their client because they didn’t want to further anger the judge,” Jaros said. “We don’t want the attorney to be thinking about what the judge thinks about them at trial. We want the attorney to be focused on the best defense for their client.”

In their filing, Mosby’s attorneys said they discussed their request to withdraw from the case with Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland James Wyda, and that Wyda said his office was prepared to take up Mosby’s defense if called upon.

The current defense team asked Griggsby to appoint the federal public defender to represent Mosby.

Wyda did not return a message left with the federal public defender’s office Thursday afternoon.

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Outlaw, a former federal public defender in Maryland, said he has “full faith and confidence that the federal defender, if appointed, will provide her with top quality representation and if they need any help from me, all they need to do is ask.”

Public defenders typically represent people accused of crimes who cannot afford attorneys. Mosby, who spent eight years as state’s attorney, left office making approximately $250,000 annually. However, she is under some sort of financial duress, having been granted government funds to pay expert witnesses in her case.

Federal prosecutors have yet to respond in support of, or against, the defense’s request. The U.S. Attorney’s Office typically does not comment on pending legal matters.

Mosby’s trial is slated for late March, but her attorneys asked Griggsby to suspend all deadlines for filings in the case until Mosby finds legal representation.

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There’s no guarantee Griggsby will grant Mosby’s lawyers’ request to withdraw from the case, said defense attorney Andrew Radding, a former federal prosecutor who practices in state and federal courts and is not involved in Mosby’s case.

Bolden and the other lawyers with his firm cited several rules of professional conduct for attorneys in their request to Griggsby.

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Radding said Griggsby will consider how those rules apply to the circumstances in Mosby’s case, and whether Mosby’s attorneys’ “ability to defend Mosby is really impacted” by Griggsby’s findings regarding Bolden’s behavior. The judge, Radding said, also will have to consider the impact of a wholesale defense attorney change on the schedule of Mosby’s case.

He said the case likely would be postponed a third time if Mosby gets new lawyers. Indicted over a year ago, Mosby originally demanded a speedy trial before asking for a postponement in April amid her failed campaign for a third term as state’s attorney.

“It’s two months from a trial that’s been litigated over months and months and months,” said Radding, noting a continuing contentious debate between Mosby and the government over expert witnesses. “To bring in completely new counsel is going to delay this trial months or a year and I think that’s going to weigh on [Griggsby] too.”


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