A. Scott Bolden, the lawyer leading former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s federal criminal defense, can no longer represent her because he might soon be in legal trouble too, he said in a court filing Wednesday explaining why he wants off the case.
Last Thursday, all six attorneys representing Mosby asked to be removed from the case and to have the city’s former top prosecutor represented by the federal public defender.
Federal prosecutors said they’re fine with Bolden withdrawing from the case but argued the remaining five attorneys — including three from Bolden’s firm, Reed Smith LLP — should remain on the case to avoid another postponement of Mosby’s trial, slated for March.
U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby scheduled a video hearing Friday to determine whether she’ll allow the defense attorneys to quit the case. Griggsby also ordered Maryland’s federal public defender, James Wyda, appear at the hearing.
The development comes after Griggsby threatened Jan. 17 to hold Bolden in criminal contempt of court for violating court rules, like divulging confidential juror information in public legal paper and filing motion without the signature of a Maryland attorney, as Bolden is not licensed to practice in the state. Griggsby also took exception to Bolden’s use of profanity to criticize the second postponement of the case, calling it “bulls***” on the courthouse steps.
In separate filings this week, Mosby’s lawyers offered differing reasons for why they wanted off the case, pushing back on prosecutors’ objections.
Bolden said it would be unfair for him to continue representing Mosby because his interests are now divided between defending Mosby and himself. The other lawyers from his firm — Rizwan Qureshi, Kelley Miller and Anthony Todd — said they shared Bolden’s conflict of interest.
Bolden and his colleagues at Reed Smith said in the filing Thursday that they are now preparing for trial “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,” Bolden, Qureshi, Miller and Todd wrote. “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.”
Griggsby ordered Bolden to explain by Jan. 31 why she should not refer him to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution for contempt.
In its opposition, the government disputed that there is a conflict at all, arguing the issue of whether Bolden will be held in contempt of court is separate from Mosby’s criminal case. But if there is a conflict, federal prosecutors said, it applies to Bolden and not to any of the other lawyers from his firm.
Attorneys Gary Proctor and Lucius Outlaw joined Mosby’s defense more recently — free of charge — and said they did so with the understanding they’d only play supporting roles, not those of lead lawyers.
In his own filing, Outlaw said his responsibilities as a professor at Howard University School of Law mean he couldn’t lead a defense team at trial.
Proctor, meanwhile, said he wasn’t even planning to attend Mosby’s trial — and that Mosby knew this — because he had previously planned and paid for international travel for a family gathering.
Both Outlaw and Proctor said they’d be willing to continue to defend Mosby in secondary roles if Griggsby’s reschedules her trial.
Mosby, a Democrat who left office in January after two terms, is charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications for a pair of properties in Florida: An eight-bedroom house near Disney World and a condo on the state’s Gulf Coast.
Federal prosecutors say Mosby falsely claimed to have experienced “adverse financial consequences” because of the coronavirus pandemic to make her eligible for two early withdrawals from her city retirement account. She used the roughly $80,000 from obtained from her savings through the CARES Act, Congress’ first pandemic relief package, to make down payments on the Florida properties.
To secure a lower interest rate on her mortgage, Mosby claimed the house near Orlando was a second home when she’d already lined up management company to run it in a rental, according to her indictment. She also neglected to tell lenders that she owed the federal government money for unpaid taxes.
In their filing Saturday, prosecutors said any one of the six lawyers could defend Mosby on their own because “the charges and the evidence in this case are not complicated.”
“This is not a case involving sophisticated financial transactions, multiple defendants or complex charges,” prosecutors wrote. “It is a case of single defendant lying on four separate occasions about her personal finances in order to buy two houses in Florida.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Lee O. Sanderlin contributed to this article.