Marilyn Mosby’s lead attorney says battling the prospect of criminal contempt charges for his conduct in her case means he’s no longer putting his full effort into her trial defense, a conflict that affects other attorneys at his firm.
The argument came in a new filing Wednesday, after federal prosecutors said Mosby’s attorneys hadn’t given good cause to withdraw from her case two months before trial.
Two other attorneys in the case responded earlier this week that they cannot assume larger roles in the prosecution because they did not plan to take part in the trial in the first place.
U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby has scheduled a status conference for Friday to sort through the increasingly unraveling proceedings.
The city’s former top prosecutor was indicted in January 2022 on federal charges of perjury related to withdrawing money early from her retirement account — citing a COVID-related hardship — and making false claims on a loan application.
The government and defense have been sparring in back-and-forth filings, but things took a turn when Griggsby signaled that she could impose criminal contempt sanctions on Mosby’s lead attorney A. Scott Bolden for rules violations. She gave him two weeks to retain counsel and to argue why he should not be held in contempt.
The defense team two days later said they wanted to withdraw from the case and that the federal public defender’s office was prepared to take over. Bolden and three lawyers from his firm Reed Smith said they had a conflict of interest, and Maryland-based attorneys Lucius Outlaw and Gary Proctor said they were unable to take on greater responsibilities if the Reed Smith attorneys withdrew.
Prosecutors followed with a filing saying that while they did not oppose Bolden’s request to withdraw, the Reed Smith attorneys had not demonstrated a conflict and should stay on board. That, they argued, would also mean that Outlaw and Proctor would not have to take on larger roles. Mosby’s trial team is larger than necessary for what the government said it views as a simple case, they added.
Bolden responded Wednesday, saying that the prospect of being held in contempt means he “must, understandably, focus on his own interests, not the interests of his client, Ms. Mosby.”
“Though the Court has not made a final ruling on the alleged criminal contempt,” Bolden continued, “all of the trial preparation undertaken by Mr. Bolden and his colleagues now takes place under the shadow of a threatened criminal contempt hearing. Preparation for his own defense means that Mr. Bolden cannot spend as much time as would typically be expected and required of lead defense counsel in the business of managing a trial.
“Far more importantly, it would be unconscionable to insist that Ms. Mosby receive legal advice and representation that she might reasonably imagine is colored by Mr. Bolden’s desire to seek the Court’s favor in his own proceeding.”
The other Reed Smith attorneys are also potential witnesses in Bolden’s proceedings, they said.
Proctor, meanwhile, said in his own filing that no one consulted him about the trial date and that he is unable to attend because he will be traveling out of the country for a family birthday.
“When it was discovered that Mr. Proctor had a conflict with the trial date, it was simply of no moment, because he was never meant to try the case anyway,” Proctor wrote. He said it was “never his intention, nor anyone else’s understanding that he would play a prominent role in this trial.”
Proctor said he was willing to continue on the case in a secondary/support role if the trial date is moved.
Outlaw, meanwhile, said he was also unable to attend or participate in the current trial due to his teaching duties at the Howard University School of Law.
Proctor and Outlaw are both on the case pro bono and involved, in part, because the Reed Smith lawyers are not admitted to try cases in Maryland’s federal court and need local counsel to cosign their filings. Not having them sign a filing is one of the rules Griggsby said Bolden violated.