She gets points for airing it out it court.So said Fraser Smith on WYPR this morning, referring to State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her prosecution of six police officers following the death of Freddie Gray.
Meanwhile an attorney and law professor, John Banzhaf, has filed multiple complaints with the Attorney Greivance Commission against Mosby and her trial team, arguing that the exact same conduct deserves censure and disbarment.
Who's right? In principle, if not in sanction, Banzhaf. Mosby will certainly be reprimanded for her press conference announcing charges last year, for which there is ample precedent (former State's Attorney Doug Gansler of Montgomery County got in trouble for his press conferences.) And the more she continues with these trials, despite the rejection of all her theories of a crime by Judge Barry Williams, the more she risks further sanctions.
Prosecutors do not get points for "airing" issues through unfounded criminal trials, trials that ruin people's lives and cost citizens precious tax dollars and use of criminal justice resources. They deserve rebuke.
Prosecutors are charged with following the evidence and the law wherever it takes them. Trials for political purposes threaten the very foundation of the criminal justice system. One cannot watch or read To Kill a Mockingbird without feeling sick to one's stomach. From a prosecutor's point of view, how is this different? How does one justify doing what Mosby and her team did - inventing new theories of crime, claiming facts they can't prove - to paint six individuals as criminals for what, at worst, was a police department failing in transportation procedures? Injustice is injustice, and when a prosecutor perpetuates it by pandering to a mentality - be it racist, anti-police, or whatever the point of view - we all lose.
If an "airing out" of what happened was necessary, Mosby had the example of the Ferguson prosecutor: do a thorough investigation using the grand jury, explain the evidence vis-a-vis the law, and make all those records public. That prosecutor was then backed up by a federal investigation, because he did it the right way. People can still argue about the implications of the evidence, like they are doing now in the Gray acquittals. And Gray's death itself has led to new procedures for the police department. We didn't need these baseless criminal cases to spur reforms, throwing six people with careers and families to the wolves.
My stomach turns when I see hypocrites like Doug Colbert on the news every night, relishing what Mosby and his buddy Schatzow are doing, when he would be screaming from the mountain tops had the defendants been poor African Americans rather than police officers. Anyone sitting in a law professor's chair, who advocates injustice for any reason, disgraces his profession. Colbert is a stain on the University of Maryland School of Law.
I don't read Fraser Smith, the Baltimore Sun, or the Washington Post (which is also loathe to criticize Mosby) as enjoying what Mosby is doing, like Colbert does. But they are just as ignorant when they excuse her conduct and give her points for effort.
Mosby's initial press conference was unethical for a prosecutor by announcing her sympathy with the rioters and her intention to get the justice that they wanted, not what justice demanded.
Mosby lied when she said she used the Sheriff's office to investigate what happened. She paid no attention to the internal police investigation. She failed to use the Grand Jury to investigate. Her "parallel investigation" was rushed and superficial. Her failure to properly investigate and analyze both the factual and legal aspects of what happened to Gray led to fancy footwork and legal creativity to keep the cases going, but ultimately the sound rejection of her charges.
I am not interested in hearing from media outlets that never met a police officer who did anything wrong. I want to hear from WYPR, from the Sun, from the Post, that injustice does not serve justice. That "airing it out in court" is not a reason to drag six individuals and the city through trials. That Mosby's inexperience, and her failure to use career prosecutors to advise her, led to an unnecessary and unfair spectacle that has undermined trust in her office and the criminal justice system.
But I won't be holding my breath while I'm waiting to hear it.