Former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s defense team has asked to withdraw from her federal perjury case, two days after the judge overseeing the case said she was moving to hold her lead attorney in criminal contempt.
U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby on Tuesday gave defense attorney A. Scott Bolden two weeks to retain counsel and file a response to her finding that he had violated rules of the court related to improper filings and comments outside of court.
Mosby’s four lawyers from Bolden’s firm say they now “have a conflict, may represent Ms. Mosby no further, and must immediately move to withdraw from this matter.”
Mosby has two other Maryland-based attorneys, Lucius Outlaw and Gary Proctor; both said they were not able to take over as her lead counsel due to other obligations.
The motion proposes that the federal public defender’s office will take over the case, and that Mosby had consented to the changes.
Mosby’s trial, already twice delayed, is scheduled to take place in March.
Marshall Henslee, an attorney who handles cases in federal court but is not involved in the Mosby case, said the court may not grant the attorneys’ request to bow out and that it will likely be opposed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“The court would first have to find that there is a conflict, and if there is not, then it’s merely a request to withdraw, and the court does not have to grant that request,” Henslee said.
The court could also deem that Mosby is not eligible to be represented by the federal public defender’s office. The court previously approved her request to receive funding assistance for expert witnesses, although it ordered her to make monthly $1,000 reimbursement payments.
Mosby is charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. Prosecutors say she lied about a financial hardship in order to access retirement funds under a provision of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and then lied on paperwork related to the purchase of two Florida properties.
Bolden has been representing Mosby since she was indicted, blasting the prosecution as politically and racially biased against her. He has said she is being selectively prosecuted, because they can’t find examples of anyone else facing charges from taking pandemic-related withdrawals from their retirement accounts.
Griggsby found there was no basis for the claims and told the defense to refrain from making the accusations.
On Tuesday, Griggsby said Bolden had violated rules of the court when he included confidential juror questionnaire information in a September court filing that was not signed by local attorneys on the case, which is required by the court’s rules. Bolden, a Washington-based attorney, is not admitted to practice in the federal court in Maryland.
She also admonished him for a September press conference on courthouse steps in which he cursed, calling the delay of Mosby’s trial “bullshit,” and reiterated his belief that the government had a political and racial bias against her. The latter also prompted the government to seek a limited gag order, which Griggsby also granted.
Griggsby said Bolden’s violation of the rules “would involve the imposition of criminal contempt sanctions.”
“Because criminal contempt is a crime, penalties for criminal contempt may not be imposed on someone who has not been afforded the protections that the Constitution requires for such criminal proceedings, including being informed of the right to counsel,” Griggsby said in a written order. “And so, the Court provides Defense Counsel Bolden with notice of the aforementioned violations of its Local Rules, and the Court will afford Defense Counsel Bolden an opportunity to be heard before the Court imposes any criminal contempt sanctions in this matter.”
In addition, Griggsby denied a motion for the trial to be moved out of Baltimore and to instead be held in Greenbelt. Mosby’s attorneys said she had suffered from negative media attention and that a jury pool from the D.C. suburbs and southern Maryland would make it easier to select an unbiased jury.