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Crime

Trial of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby postponed until September, federal judge rules

A federal judge approved Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s request to postpone her criminal trial, setting a new date in September.

After a teleconference with Mosby’s defense lawyers and federal prosecutors Tuesday morning, U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby scheduled the trial for Sept. 19. It’s unclear how many days Griggsby set aside for the trial, but prosecutors said in a February status report they anticipated trying the case in four days.

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Mosby has maintained she is innocent of the perjury and false statement charges outlined in the Jan. 13 grand jury indictment. From the outset, the two-term state’s attorney publicly demanded a speedy trial, saying she didn’t want the case to interfere with her bid for reelection, beginning with the Democratic primary over the summer.

The trial was scheduled for May 2. On Friday, Mosby walked back her demands to be tried quickly and moved for a postponement, with her lawyers citing concerns about meeting pretrial deadlines outlined by Griggsby. The new trial date set Tuesday means Mosby’s day in court will come after the July 19 primary.

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While Mosby hasn’t officially filed to run for reelection, videos emerged online this week appearing to show her at a March campaign event. Reviewed by The Baltimore Sun, the footage depicted an impassioned Mosby speaking to supporters from what appear to be the steps to her home in Reservoir Hill. Mosby repeated her assertions that she’s being persecuted because of her policies, while touting her record and energizing her support base.

“This is just the beginning. We’re three months out. I have a trial, we got an election to win — that’s what this is about; this was put in place so that I would not win,” Mosby told those in attendance, promoting lawn signs and asking for volunteers and donations. “When we come back, because we’re about to, we’re going to come back like we just did, with an army behind me saying ‘Game on. We’re built for this.’”

Mosby faces two familiar challengers in the Democratic primary in defense attorney Ivan Bates and former prosecutor and mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah, and runs with her trial looming.

The indictment charges Mosby with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications on a pair of vacation properties in Florida: an eight-bedroom home near Disney World, and a condo on the state’s Gulf Coast.

Federal prosecutors accused Mosby of committing perjury by falsely claiming financial hardship due to the coronavirus to make early, penalty-free withdrawals from her retirement savings under the federal CARES Act. They said she made false statement by failing to disclose a federal tax lien on the mortgage applications and trying to secure a lower interest rate by claiming the house near Orlando would be a second home despite having arranged for a company to run it as a rental.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office opposed Mosby’s request for a delay, saying that her lawyers presented no valid reason to postpone the case and that they were prepared for trial. Prosecutors accused Mosby of attempting to “try this case in the press,” extending a series of heated pretrial pleadings featuring pointed critiques from both sides.

Mosby’s lawyers are seeking to have her case dismissed on the grounds of prosecutorial vindictiveness, arguing that the lead prosecutor, Leo Wise, and Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek Barron wield animus against her and brought a case tainted by bias. In support, they noted donations Wise made to Mosby’s political opponents, and disparaging comments Barron allegedly made about Mosby as a state lawmaker.

Federal prosecutors responded by saying Mosby’s claims were baseless, and that she “invented a tale of victimhood” to distract from her charges. Prosecutors have indicated they will file a motion ahead of trial to prohibit the defense from attacking Wise in front of the jury.

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Griggsby’s scheduling order Tuesday keeps in place some of the deadlines she previously established, meaning that Mosby and the attorneys will appear in court April 14 to address the defense’s motion to dismiss the case and other pretrial legal filings. The judge set aside 90 minutes for the attorneys to argue their positions.

A pretrial status conference is slated to occur Sept. 14, five days before the trial kicks off.

Prosecutors are expected to call up to 15 witnesses, while Mosby’s lawyer A. Scott Bolden recently indicated the defense is considering bringing 5 to 10 expert witnesses to the stand.

Part of the debate over a delay pertained to discovery material, or evidence and information the attorneys exchange before trial. The discussion brought to light that the government has recordings of Mosby’s calls to the company that manages the city’s retirement plan.


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