It was inevitable that other politicians would toss Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby under the bus. There were glimmers—trial balloons—of just that during the failed trials of Six Baltimore Police Department Officers for the accidental death of Freddie Gray. Now Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has made the toss, as Essence.com reports:
Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is accusing state’s attorney Marilyn J. Mosby of bowing to political pressure after rushing to prosecute the six officers involved in the Freddie Gray investigation.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Rawlings-Blake believes Mosby should have told the public that she needed more time to conduct a thorough investigation. ‘The political pressure is real when you are in big jobs, and you can’t bow to the political pressure and charge when you’re not ready. You have to stand up, be in the big role and say to the people … you need time to continue to investigate,’ she said.
Rawlings-Blake’s own comments during the riots that followed the death of Gray caused her to abort any attempt at another mayoral term. This, however, is new:
Rawlings-Blake said she never intended to have a public conversation about her private conversations with Mosby, adding that the prosecutor seems to misunderstand the differences in their roles. The mayor also shared that what Mosby didn’t reveal was her attempt to hold the release of information to the public.
‘She told us to hold off, and don’t put it out there, don’t make it public; I couldn’t do that, so I know she was probably upset about it. As soon as we had that information, I wasn’t holding it, not even for a day.’
The mayor added that it’s not her fault if prosecution was ineffective.
‘I cannot force her to use her best judgment and then decide how long to investigate and when to bring charges. She did that on her own.
Why, one might wonder, did Rawlings-Blake wait until now to distance herself from Mosby, and to add bus tire prints to Mosby’s fashionable wardrobe? That would be an 8000 word love song to Mosby in The New York Times by Wil S. Hylton. It begins:
A llittle before 7 the other night, the prosecutor Marilyn Mosby stopped by my house in Baltimore for dinner. She was coming straight from work in one of her customary gray pantsuits, and because I was already nursing a beer, she took off her jacket with a sigh and poured herself a glass of white wine. Then we stepped onto the back deck to throw a few burgers on the grill. This being a September evening, you might imagine the yard in raking light and breezy autumnal aspect, but it was actually pretty swampy, the oppressive tonnage of summer humidity not yet given way to season’s end, so as soon as the burgers looked about done, we ferried them inside and settled at the island in my kitchen to eat. After a few minutes, Mosby’s husband, Nick, who sits on the City Council, knocked on my front door, let himself in and wandered through the house to join us. He took a seat two chairs down from Marilyn, leaving an empty one between them.
‘Hey, Marilyn,’ he said quietly.
‘Hey, Nick,’ she said. ‘How are you?’
‘Fine,’ he said.
‘How was your meeting?’
‘Didn’t you have a Council meeting?’
“Oh,” he said. “That was a long time ago.”
She raised an eyebrow. ‘Then where are you coming from just now?’
‘I was waiting for you at home,’ he said.
Now she looked annoyed. ‘I called you at 6:07,” she said. “You didn’t answer.’
‘Which number?’ he asked.
‘Your cellphone!’ she said.
There was a long silence as Marilyn stared at Nick, who stared at the table. ‘Well,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘I was at home.’
I relate this bit of conversation not because it offers a perfect window on the Mosbys and their marriage, but just the opposite: because it’s important to understand from the outset that what you are about to read is a narrow but intimate view. A couple in the midst of a public ordeal is not excused from life’s usual bothers, and what is striking when you find yourself in proximity to a crisis isn’t always the soaring arc of the fall but the way it touches against, grazes and refracts all the familiar daily torments on the way down.
I’ll not add any additional details of the Mosby’s personal lives revealed in the NYT account. Anyone interested can take the link and read the whole thing. This passage alone is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s hot friends cooling. Suffice it to say the article is an obvious attempt to make Marilyn Mosby seem sympathetic, a noble, dedicated public servant bravely dealing with the fallout of unfair criticism. I’ll also be omitting quite a bit of the text. Much of it is backstory regular readers of SMM don’t need. Some of it, factually deficient and ignorant of the Gray case, is embarrassing and all too familiar to regular readers.
Yet over the last year and a half, the halo around Mosby has faded as her office failed to convict any of the police officers and instead produced three acquittals, and one hung jury — before deciding in late July to withdraw all remaining charges. She is now being sued for defamation by five of the officers she indicted and has become a go-to grievance for the voluble right, being subject to more or less constant assault on the conservative airwaves, accused of criminal misconduct by Donald Trump and featured on the cover of the police magazine Frontline under the headline ‘The Wolf That Lurks.’ A steady barrage of racist hate mail and death threats still pours into her home and office. Nick Mosby has had an equally dispiriting year, having started and abandoned a campaign for mayor of Baltimore and, in the process, giving up his seat on the Council, where his term comes to an end this year. Critics often accuse the Mosbys of Clintonian ambition. A few weeks ago, Baltimore’s alternative weekly, City Paper, released its annual Best of Baltimore issue, declaring them ‘Best Failed Political Dynasty’ and naming Marilyn ‘Best Don Quixote.
“The Wolf That Lurks” is, of course, not referring exclusively to Mosby, but to unscrupulous prosecutors everywhere that would, for political advantage, prosecute police officers for lawfully performing their jobs. It also appears there is considerable stress in the Mosby marriage, this paragraph hinting broadly at Marilyn’s failed, unethical prosecutions of the six BPD officers.
Missing in all the hype and fizzle has been just about any public comment from the Mosbys, and particularly from Marilyn, who spent nine months under a gag order imposed by the criminal courts. At her news conference in July to announce the dismissal of charges, she seemed to offer a glimpse into her mood and thinking when she denounced the city’s criminal-justice system as hopelessly broken.
‘Without real, substantive reforms,’ she said, ‘we could try this case 100 times, and cases just like it, and still wind up with the same result.’ Afterward, Mosby declined to take questions, and she has mostly avoided interviews since, citing the defamation lawsuits against her.
Here we see the extraordinary lack of introspection of the social justice warrior. As I’ve reported from the inception of the Freddie Gray case (the SMM Freddie Gray archive is available here), there was not only no probable cause to arrest the officers, each subsequent failed prosecution conclusively proved there was no evidence to prove the crimes charged. It was not a matter of merely questionable evidence; there was no evidence. Judge Barry Williams’ careful verdicts so destroyed every nonsensical prosecution theory, no rational prosecutor would have so embarrassed themselves with such laughable cases. In that, Mosby is right: 100 cases filed without any hope of proof beyond a reasonable doubt would produce the same result. She can’t admit she was entirely wrong, that her prosecutorial judgment was, due to her inexperience and her social justice warrior inclinations, completely wrong. She can’t admit she destroyed the lives of six innocent police officers and destroyed any hope for effective law enforcement in Baltimore for God knows how long.
Hylton writes that his several sessions with the Mosby led:
…to a deeper slate of personal concerns that cut to the center of their lives, as the Mosbys tried to convey in whatever words they could muster the experience of these last few months, of what went wrong, and when and why, and how much they had lost. ‘I don’t think I’ll ever be who I was before,’ Marilyn told me at one point. ‘I’m still trying to figure out who this new woman is.
One might successfully argue Mosby remains precisely who she was. Because she refuses to deal with the actual reasons for the failure of the prosecutions, she remains inexperienced, incompetent, and destined to make worse mistakes in the future.
Hylton does offer some pseudo-balance:
Like one night in mid-September, a cop with two decades of service on the police force swung by around 9 p.m. and spent the next hour and a half venting about Mosby’s intractable incompetence. In case you are picturing some old white dude with a revanchist hankering for the good old days of zero tolerance, I want you to know that this cop is a woman of color with staunchly liberal views, who firmly supports mandatory police cameras and readily acknowledges, for example, that under the mayoralty of Martin O’Malley in the early 2000s, the Baltimore police behaved like a goon squad, rounding up black people in mass arrests without a scintilla of probable cause. ‘O’Malley had us clearing corners and violating the constitutional rights of everybody,’ she said.
Even so, she regarded Mosby as a singular catastrophe for the city. One thing that most people outside Baltimore don’t realize is the degree to which Mosby’s election in 2014 came as a surprise. When she started her campaign to become the city’s top prosecutor a year before, she was a 33-year-old corporate lawyer working for an insurance firm. Although she had spent a few years in the prosecutor’s office from 2005 to 2011, she caught little notice on the job. ‘I was like, ‘Who is that?’ The officer at my house recalled thinking when Mosby announced her campaign. ‘And I knew pretty much every state’s attorney at the district level, and every state’s attorney at the Circuit Court level, and most of the judges.’ In conversation with half a dozen prosecutors who worked with Mosby, no one could remember any of the cases she handled before her election.
Thus the mass exodus of professional, career prosecutors from Mosby’s office after her election—some 30%–an extraordinary, unprecedented flight. Hylton suggests, perhaps without knowing what he’s saying, that Baltimore progressives admire Mosby for attacking the Police Department through the six officers, essentially, for making a political gesture that has plunged Baltimore into unprecedented criminal attack, costing lives and untold misery.
Other Baltimore reporters might tell you just the opposite. Another friend, who covers the city for a major newspaper, has told me on more than one occasion that whatever you think about the way Mosby handled the trials, you have to admire the guts she showed in taking on the Police Department, knowing that it would alienate many of the prosecutors in her office and every cop in the city. ‘Even if you don’t think she did the best job prosecuting the cases, I have a lot of respect for her,’ my friend said.
In her first week on the job, she fired six prosecutors, setting off a round of hand-wringing in the local media; since then, she has presided over a continuous outflow, with more than 60 prosecutors leaving over the last 21 months, which by my estimation is about five times the usual attrition. Mosby said that this is partly a consequence of reform. ‘Of course the amount of turnover is going to be higher than my predecessor,’ she said. ‘Because I’ve challenged the status quo, and people are going to have a problem with that.
The Baltimore reporter, and Mosby, is oblivious to reality. Career prosecutors don’t abandon their careers because the head prosecutor has a slightly different approach. They left because Mosby is an incompetent, vindictive, political partisan that prevents ethical professionals from upholding the rule of law, to say nothing of her nonexistent management skills.
They have seriously depleted the top end, a police lieutenant with three decades of experience told me, ‘and the result is that nobody knows what they’re doing.’ Add to that the festering resentment over Mosby’s decision to prosecute officers for the death of Gray, and it’s fair to say that the partnership between the police and prosecutors in Baltimore is broken.
This would be the broken criminal justice system about which Mosby speaks, and to which she has, overwhelmingly, contributed.
It’s a fractured relationship,’ the cop at my house the other night said with a shrug. ‘It’s absolutely been fractured, and I won’t say it can’t be repaired, but I think it’s going to be a very, very long time.’ As she was preparing to leave, I asked this officer if she was willing to admit that the conflict with Mosby, and the mutual mistrust, has led police officers to pull back from their essential duties. One of the most discouraging statistics in Baltimore has been a 63 percent increase in homicides last year. As I asked about this, I watched the cop’s face twist into a frown, which at first I mistook for a sign that she was offended by the question. Then she nodded.
“Absolutely,’ she said. ‘You should get used to 300 murders a year.
Mosby reveals herself as a anti-police partisan, a woman who is not a prosecutor that happens to be black, but a black prosecutor, in the worst sense of the term:
I asked Mosby if, during these years, she also began to see another side of the police; if like so many black Americans, she found herself stopped and questioned without cause. ‘I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me and my husband,’ she said. ‘But at the end of the day, what are we doing about it? Back in the day, they strategized, they organized. It wasn’t just marching and protesting. And it’s so frustrating to me. Do you know how much of a difference you can make by being at the table? For example, the whole Black Lives Matter — like, start enrolling in these police departments! I’m trying to reform the system from within. Ninety-five percent of the elected prosecutors in this country are white. Seventy-nine percent are white men. As a woman of color, I represent 1 percent of all elected prosecutors in the country.
Mosby’s credulousness is stunning. BLM cractivists should join Police Departments?! Mosby claims to be from police families and to understand police work, yet she thinks whatever problems exist can be solved by accepting people with felony records, poor educations, no people skills, drug use problems and no history or workplace reliability in police agencies? That’s just who we want, isn’t it, people with ingrained racial and political grievances, so they can really stick it to those they don’t like? Of course, no rational police agency would hire such people in the first place, not because they’re black, but because they—with few exceptions–are spectacularly unqualified, even dangerous.
As she spoke, it occurred to me that from a certain vantage, Mosby seemed almost perfectly groomed for the moment in which she burst into national attention. If you were trying to engineer a figure with the right background and life experience, the instinct and inclination to do what prosecutors for Ferguson and Staten Island did not, you would imagine a young black prosecutor, acutely aware of racial injustice and systemic oppression, who had organized herself since childhood to confront bigotry through political action, and yet someone who came from generations of police, who could not be accused of hating cops or coddling criminals, whose commitment to hard-nosed prosecution was inspired by her own formative experience of violent crime.
Only a NYT reporter could imagine that, after explaining that Mosby had, “since childhood” turned herself into a racist, BLM, social justice warrior, say she “could not be accused of hating cops or coddling criminals.” It’s like those clueless reporters stumped because despite rising jail populations, crime rates are declining.
This section is particularly amazing. It confirms many things about which I could only speculate during the trials:
The Police Department from the very outset seemed to be going down a different route,’ Mosby said. ‘They were under the impression that Freddie Gray did this to himself.
Not quite. They were under the initial impression, because the evidence supported that impression, that Gray suffered a freak accident, and that he contributed to it in trying a crash for cash scheme.
Mosby is an avid Twitter user and saw a video that night [04-13-15]. As she gathered with her staff the next morning for their daily meeting, she prepared a list of questions about what happened to Gray. This is routine for any situation in which prosecutors suspect that a crime might have taken place; part of their job is to coordinate with the police to draw out evidence necessary to consider charges. But when Mosby and her staff met with police officials the next day, she said, her internal alarms started going off. She believed that the police investigators were not seriously considering the possibility of wrongdoing by other cops. ‘It was this perception that he had done this to himself, and it didn’t add up,’ she said. ‘They didn’t want to do anything that we requested them to do, and we saw that right away.’
This was the day after Gray’s arrest. Virtually no one, including the police, knew anything with any certainty. The investigation had only just begun. There was nothing to “add up,” because there was no conclusive evidence. There was no time for the officers to refuse to do what Mosby “requested them to do.” Despite coming from “generations of police,” Mosby learned nothing from the experience. No investigation of such a case could be complete for weeks, even months. Assuming Mosby is truthful in saying she actually asked the police to do specific things only the day after the event, the police would have been aghast. By that time, detectives would have only just received the reports from the previous day. Interviews of the officers had not yet begun. They would have been amazed she knew nothing about how things work.
Mosby decided to look into the case independently: ‘It just did not make any sense, and so I said: ‘Send our investigators out to the scene. We need to figure out what’s going on.’ She told me that some prosecutors in her office were reluctant to question the police narrative so quickly. ‘My team was like, ‘Well, we’ve got to be real careful, because we need the police,’ she said. ‘I told them: ‘We need the police to a certain extent, but we need to find out the truth. So I need you to go send investigators out there and find out what the hell happened.
Obviously, Mosby’s experienced prosecutors were trying to tell her not to rush in without a clue what she was doing, but social justice warrior that she is, she knew from the first what the narrative must be, and she was going to ensure it was fulfilled. There was no “police narrative” at that point. They hadn’t even begun their investigation.
We now know that Mosby claimed the Sheriff’s Department assisted her “investigation,” but that never happened. We also know she enlisted Sheriff’s Major Sam Cogan to transcribe the probable cause statements containing no probable cause. Cogan has admitted he did no investigation, nor did any member of his agency. He just copied text handed him by the prosecutors, adding an occasional flourish. Mosby never did an independent investigation. She pressured the Coroner into changing her conclusion from accident to homicide, and lied about all of it.
I’ll conclude my analysis of the NYT article in Update 41.2, posted Wednesday, October 12, next week. I hope to see you there.