Federal prosecutors are opposing a request from former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s attorneys to leave her defense team.
In a motion filed Saturday, prosecutors argued that Mosby’s lawyers, all of whom filed a motion to withdraw from the case earlier this week, have not shown good cause to be removed.
“The practical effect of the withdrawal of all the lawyers who have worked on this case will be to necessitate yet another continuance, the third one defense counsel would have caused,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise wrote.
On Thursday, 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.
The attorneys have been defending Mosby against federal mortgage fraud and perjury charges stemming from her early withdrawal of retirement funds and loan applications she made for a pair of properties in Florida. The Democrat, who served two four-year terms as state’s attorney, left office earlier this month after losing her bid for reelection. She has pleaded not guilty and is due to stand trial in March.
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.
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.
On Saturday, prosecutors said they do not object to Bolden’s withdrawal “in light of his unprofessional and uncivil behavior” in the case, but that they opposed the exit of Mosby’s other five attorneys.
Bolden has publicly claimed Mosby is the target of racist and political prosecution. In September, he stood on the courthouse steps and called a delay in the case “bulls---,” while suggesting that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland was targeting African American government employees for prosecution. He apologized in court the next day for the profanity.
“The government is confident that the matter would be handled in a more professional and civil matter by any of the other five attorneys that represent the defendant,” prosecutors wrote in their motion.
None of the attorneys involved, however, have a conflict in the case, prosecutors argued. The court’s orders have been specific to Bolden.
“There is no reason, let alone a ‘present risk’ why their representation of the defendant would be materially limited by the contempt proceeding against Mr. Bolden,” prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors also argued Mosby’s attorneys have not shown good cause for their withdrawal, dismissing Outlaw’s argument that he is too busy to serve as lead counsel.
“Mr. Proctor is an extremely experienced trial lawyer who has tried a number of complex and serious cases in this district,” prosecutors wrote. “The fact that Mr. Proctor can’t serve as ‘lead counsel,’ is not good cause to withdraw. He doesn’t have to become ‘lead counsel’; he can continue in the role he is in and Mr. Qureshi or Ms. Miller, both of whom are partners, like Mr. Bolden at Reed Smith, can become lead counsel.”
While Mosby consented to her attorneys withdrawing, Griggsby is not obligated to grant the request. Observers said the judge will consider how Mosby’s defense would be impacted by a withdrawal and the likelihood of a schedule change.
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.
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.
Baltimore Sun reporters Alex Mann and Lee O. Sanderlin contributed to this article.