Maryland lawmakers have passed a bill, pushed by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, designed to help clear the way for prosecutors to overturn convictions they deem tainted or unjust.

The legislation was prompted after city prosecutors said they ran into obstacles in their attempts to overturn convictions related to the Gun Trace Task Force police corruption scandal, as well as recent marijuana possession convictions following a policy change by prosecutors not to take on such cases.

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Prosecutors said judges had denied some motions in cases involving the GTTF officers on the grounds that there was no legal basis for a prosecutor to request that the judge vacate the conviction.

On Wednesday, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said prosecutors statewide “will soon have the procedural right to revisit convictions for those that were unfairly or wrongly convicted.”

The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.

Baltimore will stop prosecuting marijuana possession, Mosby announces

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday her office would cease prosecuting people for possessing marijuana regardless of quantity or criminal history.

Del. Erek Barron, a Prince George’s County Democrat who is a former state and federal prosecutor, sponsored the bill after conversations with representatives from the city prosecutors’ office.

“It was just a no-brainer for me,” Barron said. “All of the standards for criminal prosecution out there include an obligation to, where there’s an injustice or wrongful conviction, to do whatever he or she can to correct that wrong. In my view, this [bill] is a codification of that duty.”

City prosecutors have said they were reviewing thousands of convictions in cases brought by officers on the Gun Trace Task Force, who were convicted on federal racketeering charges for robbing people, conducting illegal searches, lying on court documents to justify arrests, and, in the case of some of the officers, dealing drugs and planting evidence. So far, they say they’ve filed 153 joint motions with the public defender’s office to overturn such cases.

“Not only will this law create a mechanism to streamline the vacatur of the GTTF-related cases that are still pending review by the State’s Attorney, but prosecutors across the state will now have the means to right the wrongs of any conviction in their jurisdiction that goes against justice and fairness,” said Maryland’s top public defender, Paul De Wolfe.

Mosby also announced in January that her office would seek to overturn 5,000 recent marijuana possession convictions following a decision to stop prosecuting such cases.

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