I generally don’t toot my own horn, but this comment from Update 21, turns out to have been particularly prophetic:
Nothing about this case is pretty. It, like the Zimmerman case, will one day be taught in competent schools of law as an example of how not to handle a prosecution.
This update will serve primarily to provide readers with a variety of statements on the crumbling of Marilyn Mosby from a variety of observers. I’ll provide more in-depth analysis at the beginning of the first week of August as more information becomes available.
An attorney friend in the Baltimore area noted:
I would observe that her press conference announcing the dismissal of all charges quickly deteriorated into a denunciation of the Baltimore City PD, and she and her lead prosecutors have poisoned relations between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Police Department that may not recover until she and they [her subordinates involved in the persecution] are gone.
Well-informed about the legal and police communities, he added this about the state of the BPD:
Everyone I know who can retire, has. I go into the few good areas of town for the food, entertainment, and a little shopping, then get out. [I’m] armed all the time.
Those with a strong stomach and a desire to watch Mosby’s second political rally–her first was when she announced the charges against the officers–may see the entire debacle here.
Mosby’s press conference is remarkable not only because she chose to hold it on the street in front of a mural of Freddie Gray, but because prosecutors virtually never comment on the outcome of cases. It is their job to seek justice, and to avoid antagonizing judges, the police and other members of the Bar. They substantially set the tone for the public. A prosecutor suggesting that the criminal justice system is corrupt and rigged destroys public confidence and actually endangers lives. Most prosecutors know this, and accordingly, keep their mouths shut.
It is significant that after their inevitable and absolute loss in the Trayvon Martin case, Angela Corey and her minions spoke to the press, blaming the police, and everyone but themselves for their insane pursuit of a murder charge without the slightest evidence. So it is with Marilyn Mosby.
Mosby’s demeanor was loud and angry, and she became louder and angrier as her political speech droned on. Her manner and cadences were those of an evangelical preacher/race hustler like Al Sharpton or Jeremiah Wright. Her obviously hand-picked audience, watchfully protected by uniformed and plain clothes police officers, made the kinds of spontaneous and supportive comments one sees in emotional, black church services.
She claimed she was not anti-police, but was “anti-police brutality,” despite her deputies never making a claim of brutality in the Gray case. In her first political rally, she swore to seek “justice for Freddie Gray,” and repeated that claim in this one. She is clearly influenced by Barack Obama, as much of the speech was a litany of how her choices negatively affected her and the other prosecutors, blamed on others, of course.
Given the chance to repair the bridges between her office and the police she had so recklessly burned, she chose to accuse the police not only of perjury and obstruction of justice, but making up and concealing evidence. The essence of her claims was that she never, due to police malfeasance, had a complete investigation, yet at her first political rally, she claimed to have conducted a complete independent investigation aided by the Sheriff’s Department. If Mosby’s case suffered from an incomplete investigation, why did she so quickly lodge charges? Why not get the help, and the complete investigation, she claimed was denied her, before arresting six police officers and charging them with crimes any competent prosecutor had to have known they could not possibly prove?
Particularly shocking was Mosby’s implications that Judge Williams’ rulings were corrupt and untenable. Prosecutors never publically make such pronouncements, but Mosby is a social justice warrior, not bound by a duty to uphold the rule of law, and uncaring of the damage such wild and false charges cause.
Mosby, like many others, argued that everything was worthwhile, because her persecution of the innocent officers caused “change,” and she went through a list of those changes, many of which are responsible for the incredible increase in violent crime in Baltimore in the last year. Such a claim is stunning. The power to prosecute may not be used as a political tool; when it is, the rule of law has been abandoned. Mosby swore to continue her crusade against the police.
The unmistakable point of her rally is that Marilyn Mosby has declared herself the intractable enemy of the police and the criminal justice system.
The same day, Shepard Smith of Fox News interviewed Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the Democratic National Convention. A video of that interview is available here.
Rawlings-Blake threw Mosby under the bus. She noted that Judge Barry Williams’ rulings expressed “concern,” which she shared, about the prosecution’s withholding of exculpatory evidence, and other malfeasance. She said the evidence “didn’t meet the charges that were filed.” She also said Mosby’s comments were not supporting the police and justice. Interestingly, she was sure to make the point it was not up to Mosby to determine whether a case is heard by a judge or a jury.
Unlike Mosby, Rawlings-Blake appropriately supported Judge Williams. She observed that Williams rulings made plain there was no evidence to prove the cases, and that he is one of the “most highly regarded judges.”
Her most devastating–and obvious–point was that Mosby’s comments were “absolutely not helpful.” This does not bode well for Mosby’s political future, or for the rule of law in Baltimore.
Supporters hailed Mosby as she spoke about her decision not to move forward with the cases.
NAACP Baltimore chapter President Tessa Hill-Aston praised Mosby’s efforts.
‘I agree with everything that the state’s attorney said. I’m glad that she finally got in a position where she could speak. I think that the office did an OK job toward trying to get change for Baltimore and get indictments, but even though we didn’t get indictments, we got change. We got something that wouldn’t have happened this fast if it wasn’t for the indictments on the officers. We may not have won in court, but there is some win (in) that we got change as far as the wagon. We got change as far as the cameras, and some other things will continue to happen, and the conversations at the table with the police and the community. So most of the police and the commissioner are trying to do right thing. So what we know is, when there’s an officer who does the wrong thing, especially in the black community, at least we have change that we can step to the plate knowing we got some backup,’ Hill-Aston said.
The ACLU also commented:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland legal director Deborah Jeon released the following statement Wednesday afternoon on Mosby’s decision.
‘It is a travesty that not one Baltimore police officer will be held accountable by the court in the killing of Freddie Gray.
Yes. What a travesty that someone wasn’t put in prison for decades just because of the legal technicality there was no evidence to convict them of a crime.
But those who claim that the outcomes of the cases mean that the officers should never have been prosecuted in the first place are just wrong. We cannot lose sight of the fact that criminally charging on-duty police officers in the killing of an unarmed black man and taking them to trial was itself a historic moment for Baltimore. The trials brought to light the powerful structural barriers that protect police officers in cases of misconduct and brutality — our collective acceptance of police militarization, unequal legal standards, and the blue wall of silence, among other things. For too long, these barriers have been an excuse for not prosecuting officers in the first place.
As Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby herself said, it is time for our elected and appointed officials to take responsibility for dismantling the structural barriers to police accountability.
By all means, let’s get rid of due process and the presumption of innocence!
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Baltimore’s elected officials have an obvious place to start: Agree to put voting civilian members on police trial boards in misconduct investigations and refuse to cave to the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations happening right now. State officials should follow swiftly in Annapolis by changing the law to ensure that internal affairs investigations are not kept secret.
The trials actually brought to light the danger of prosecuting innocent police officers and building a political movement on lies. A great many citizens of Baltimore have paid with their lives for that stupidity. A great many more will.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis:
Our police officers and detectives work with the State’s Attorney’s Office every day to bring solid cases against criminals who seek to harm others and attack our quality of life. It’s an inherently strong relationship that cannot and will not miss a single beat. We will continue to work together. That’s what we do.
As the quality of this investigation has been called into question, I want to remind our residents that over 30 ethical, experienced and talented detectives worked tirelessly to uncover facts. We embedded the Baltimore Sun’s Justin George into the investigation because we knew the community would need a transparent assessment from an independent third party. His accounting of our investigative efforts speaks for itself.
The tragic death of Mr. Freddie Gray has stirred many emotions in all of us. And while we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. Our American criminal justice system has run its course, and today’s decision by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is a wise one that will undoubtedly help Baltimore to continue to heal.
Davis was a model of decorum compared to Mosby, and he was right. A police agency doesn’t cover up facts by embedding a reporter from an inherently hostile newspaper in their investigative team.
The police union also commented:
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 President Gene Ryan said Mosby’s accusations were false.
‘The men and women of the Baltimore Police Department are dedicated to serving the citizens of Baltimore every day,’ Ryan said.
‘The comments made today about our officers by Mrs. Mosby were outrageous and not true. The detectives assigned to the case conducted thorough investigations into the tragic death of Freddie Gray, but the state’s attorney could simply not accept the evidence that was presented. She had her own agenda.
This, by the attorney representing Sgt. Alicia White, is biting:
Attorney Ivan Bates…said it is time for Baltimore to heal.
Bates added that the Police Department’s investigation determined Gray’s death was an accident. He said that 30 officers were involved in the investigation and that the FBI and state police offered to assist the state’s attorney’s office, but their offer was declined.
‘We’re still waiting and looking for that independent, in-depth investigation,’ Bates said.
That’s an extraordinary bit of information. The FBI and state police wanted to help, but Mosby refused. Of course, she had to know they would not help cover evidence and would not go along with a political prosecution. After all, Hillary Clinton wasn’t directly involved–as far as we know.
Bates said that the state’s attorney’s office had the chance to do an in-depth investigation, but that they did not, denying justice to Gray’s family and the officers charged in the case.
‘You can get a conviction of an officer, whether it’s a bench trial or a jury trial, if you do an investigation,’ Bates said. ‘But when you do not do an investigation, and you run there and you quickly want to automatically say that these officers are guilty because they are the police, then you perpetuate the fear that is already there and dividing our country. Not one of these officers woke up and wanted to do anything negative to anybody.
A sampling of comments from legal experts:
It’s unfortunate that you raise the expectations that justice is going to be done,’ attorney Warren Brown, a courtroom observer through these trials said. ‘(Then) you put the officers and their families through all of this. You put a further wedge between the state’s attorney’s office and the Police Department, and why? Just do a thorough, intellectually honest investigation and let the pieces fall where they may. The state decided that they were going to move forward with these cases.’
Attorney Warren Alperstein, another courtroom observer, was also not surprised by the state’s decision in the case.
‘I think the writing was on the wall,’ Alperstein said. ‘Certainly, there’s a legitimate argument that lessons have been learned. The case can be made that the prosecution of the officers led to positive changes within the Police Department.
I suspect if asked, Alperstein would agree that prosecuting people with the goal of causing social or political change is inherently corrupt and destructive.
University of Maryland law professor Doug Colbert said the prosecution of the officers led to much-needed police reforms.
‘Officers now know that if they don’t take proper precautions to protect and safeguard human life, that they, too, will face criminal charges, and I also think it tells officers that they have to honor the police commissioner’s rules and regulations,’ Colbert said. ‘They simply cannot make the final choice on these things and ignore what every office must be doing as a reasonable officer.
Colbert’s comment ignores the near-certainly that Gray’s death was an accident he caused. Even before Gray died, every officer understood the issues Colbert raises. Even if the officers had used a seat belt on Gray, he could have opened it within a second, and could have killed himself just as easily. If Gray’s death were an accident, what lessons can the police learn? What policy changes and laws are necessary?
Even The Washington Post had some useful and balanced information:
Predictably, both sides remained split over whether Mosby, 36, can recover politically.
‘I don’t think so,’ said Warren Brown, a lawyer and former assistant state’s attorney who worked in the office before Mosby’s arrival. ‘I don’t think she can regain the trust of the white community, and the black community has been fractured. Their regard for her is fractured.’
Brown contended that the gathering backlash against Mosby also damaged her husband’s short-lived mayoral candidacy. Nick Mosby launched his bid last October, six months after Gray’s death, and dropped out two weeks before the April 26 primary. His office did not return phone calls Wednesday.’
Prospective opponents are already lining up to consider challenging Marilyn Mosby in 2018, Brown said, including defense lawyer Ivan Bates, who represented Sgt. Alicia White, one of the six charged officers.
In a telephone interview, Bates deflected questions about running, but said: ‘I do feel there needs to be a change. The city needs to heal, and unfortunately Ms. Mosby has shown herself to be extremely divisive.
Others in the legal community said Mosby’s relationship with the city’s police department was irreparably damaged — a potentially serious problem going forward as she tries to prosecute crimes in a city where homicides are sharply on the rise.
An increase in crime for which she bears primary responsibility.
Her angry, defiant appearance before reporters Wednesday morning, in which she accused detectives of launching ‘a counter-investigation’ to undermine the state’s case, seems likely to widen the breach.
‘I don’t know that she has made enemies in the city, but I think she missed an opportunity this morning to make peace with police,’ said Roya Hanna, a former Baltimore assistant state’s attorney who now runs her own criminal defense practice. ‘Instead of putting out a hand and making peace, she attacked the city.’
Rebuilding those relationships won’t be easy, said Donald Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
‘Even in a perfect world — which we don’t live in, of course — even if she were able to establish positive connections with the top police command structure, the rank and file won’t buy it,’ he said.
Norris refers to the fact that the rank and file do not trust many, if not most, of their superiors, who threw them to the wolves on numerous occasions.
Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts is not fond of Mosby, as The Baltimore Sun Reports:
She’s immature, she’s incompetent, she’s vindictive and that’s not how the justice system is supposed to work,’ former Baltimore police commissioner Anthony W. Batts said on Wednesday. ‘The justice system is supposed to be without bias for police officers, for African Americans, for everyone.’
Batts led Baltimore police from the fall of 2012 until Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake fired him in July 2015 amid a surge in city homicides that followed weeks of criticism from the police union over his handling of the city’s riots two months before.
What The Sun neglects to report is that Batts was the high-ranking fall guy sacrificed when Rawlings-Blake’s incompetence allowed rioters to loot and burn at will, and injure police officers without fear of arrest. The rise in crime was a direct result of Mosby’s incompetence, that of Rawlings-Blake, and other Baltimore politicians.
Batts said Mosby never should have filed charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest, and that her decision Wednesday to drop charges against the remaining three officers facing trials was long overdue.
Her actions, Batts said, have further harmed a criminal justice system in need of repairs.
‘Don’t create more flaws in that broken system,’ he said. ‘And you don’t do it on the back of innocent people just to prove that point.’
‘My heart bled for these officers as they went through these steps,’ Batts said. ‘I think Marilyn Mosby is in over her head.
The Sun also reports on the costs of Mosby’s witch hunt. It should be understood that Batts actually encouraged the City to pay Freddie Gray’s relatives $6.4 million dollar without any process.
Baltimore has paid an estimated $7.47 million for the trials of police officers charged and acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray, city officials said.
The Police Department accrued a little more than $7 million in costs, including $4.5 million for overtime and $2.5 million for supplies such as riot gear, while the state’s attorneys office accounted for the remaining $450,000, according to Anthony McCarthy, spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
On Wednesday, prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against the officers, ending the high-profile trials that began in December.
Officer William Porter’s trial ended with a hung jury and mistrial. Officers Edward Nero, Caesar Goodson Jr. and Lt. Brian Rice were acquitted. Officers Porter, Garrett Miller and Sgt. Alicia White were scheduled for trials when the charges were dropped Wednesday.
Baltimore City alone will foot the bill, McCarthy said.
Not quite. The citizens of Baltimore will foot the bill, and Baltimore is not exactly flush with citizen cash.
Gov. Larry Hogan has called the prosecutions a waste of time and money, especially after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby failed to win convictions in four trials.
But the trials were not the only costs. In September, the city approved a $6.4 million payout to the Gray family, accepting all civil liability.
Baltimore will be paying, in blood and cash, for Mosby’s lack of adult responsibility and competence for decades.
I have always believed that we get precisely the police, the prosecutors and the politicians we deserve. The last Republican mayor of Baltimore left office in 1947. Baltimore has been under absolute Democrat rule for nearly seven decades. Any problems with the police are clearly their fault, and the fault of voters who have, for 69 years, elected Democrat after Democrat.
The BPD is under the control of politicians elected by the people of Baltimore–and of course, a great many formerly alive citizens who invariably vote Democrat after death. This has always been the case. If the BPD is, as former Commissioner Batts claims, “broken,” why haven’t the Democrat politicians in charge for seven decades done anything about it? And why haven’t the citizens, upset about the abuse of the police, voted the politicians that did nothing about it out of office?
Why is it that Democrat ruled cities are always such cesspools of corruption, violent crime, drug abuse, racism, abuse of women, and political/managerial incompetence? Something in the water, perhaps? AR-15s? Global warming? Air conditioning, as Secretary of State John Kerry said? Or is it the fact that Republicans are allowed to continue to exist? Racism? People are allowed to criticize noble Democrats like Marilyn Mosby? I know: not enough money has been spent on Democrat policies!
The next article in this series will focus on the reality of police work, and what it promises for the future of Baltimore, and America. See you again next week in the Freddie Gray archive, gentle readers.