Marilyn Mosby left court today on what was originally scheduled to be the first day of jury selection.
Instead, she walked away with a six-month reprieve – her trial on federal perjury and mortgage fraud charges now scheduled for March 27, 2023.
Today’s news means that Mosby, who lost her bid for a third term as Baltimore’s top prosecutor in the July primary, will be able to fill out the final four months of her job, which translates into about $75,000 in income.
Federal prosecutors and her attorneys arrived at the new trial date after U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby floated five potential dates in February and March, with the parties finally settling on the last proposed date.
Factors influencing the rescheduling, Griggsby said, included her trial obligations and other matters as well as jury availability.
Amid continued squabbling between prosecutors and the defense over witness disclosures and other matters , Griggsby sought to strike an upbeat note during the afternoon hearing.
“We have a schedule. That is good news,” she reminded them.
Wrangling over a Witness
But the pushed-back schedule served only to prolong a distracting controversy for a city beset with violent crime and prompted yet another round of courtroom finger-pointing, with the government and the defense blaming each other for the delay.
Prosecutors had argued for months that the defense needed to provide more information about its expert witnesses. They missed a July 1 deadline that Griggsby set to submit those details.
But it wasn’t until last week that Griggsby took up the issue, directing the defense to elaborate on expected testimony from its experts. Today the two sides wrangled again over witness testimony, focusing on Mosby’s “forensic accountant” Jerome B. Schmitt.
The prosecution complained that Mosby’s lawyers’ explanation of what Schmitt planned to say to the jury – disclosure that is required of expert witnesses – continued to be inadequate.
Plucking out an example from Schmitt’s planned testimony about the financial impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise was particularly withering.
“I have no idea how Walt Disney World is comparable to Mahogany Elite Travel,” Wise said, referring to Mosby’s Mahogany Elite travel business that, according to previous disclosures, produced no income either before or during the pandemic.
Wise repeatedly referred to it as “not operational.”
In the end, Mosby’s attorney Kelley Miller offered to produce the information Wise sought by October 7.
Over Wise’s objections (“that’s three weeks from now for information they already have”) Judge Griggsby ordered the defense to produce the disclosures by that date.
Wise was then given until December 1 to identify and hire the experts he said he would need to rebut them.
Profanity and More
Another question that hovered over today’s proceeding was how Griggsby would respond to the prosecution’s motion, filed earlier in the day, for a gag order to be imposed on the defense after Mosby’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, uttered a barnyard epithet and made other “inflammatory” and “unprofessional” remarks outside the courthouse yesterday.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron said in his motion that the attorney’s remarks could prejudice jurors against the prosecution, noting that Bolden “offered this ‘warning’ to federal and state employees:
“‘If you’re in the federal government, you’re in the state government, you’re an African-American politician working for the government, you are at risk because of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the City of Baltimore.’”
Defense apologizes for saying “bullshit,” but not for repeating racial animus allegation.
Similar allegations that white prosecutors are out to get a progressive Black public official have repeatedly been made by Mosby and her legal team since her indictment, despite the fact that Barron is Black.
Griggsby had previously considered – and denied – a defense motion to throw out the federal case against Mosby based on “racial animus” by prosecutors. Here again the allegation was made, this time before the media gaggle.
The prosecution’s motion for the gag order was not addressed by the judge today.
Instead, Griggsby set a date for Mosby’s team to reply to the motion in two weeks time, with the government responding by October 4 and the matter resolved sometime thereafter.
At the end of the proceedings, the judge asked Bolden, “Is there anything else you wish to say to the court?”
Bolden apologized only for saying “bullshit.”
“It’s been reported. . . that I used a profanity. That was inappropriate. I own it,” he said. “I apologize to the court.”
To which Griggsby replied before the hearing was adjourned, “Thank you very much, Mr. Bolden. The court certainly accepts and appreciates your apology.”