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Asked about firings, Mosby refuses to discuss ‘personnel issues’

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby appeared on “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast” on Wednesday and, well, things got interesting.

The conversation began with Mosby discussing her goal of breaking down distrust between community and police and reiterating her “top priority” is targeting violent, repeat offenders. Kast noted Mosby’s predecessor, Gregg L. Bernstein, also focused on violent repeat offenders, leading Mosby to discuss her creation of a criminal strategies unit to pursue “intelligence-driven prosecutions.”

Kast then moved on to the reports reports of a “purge” of prosecutors in the office since Mosby took over this month. Kast noted Mosby has a right to fire at-will employees. (What follows starts at about the 6-minute mark.)

“How many prosecutors were dismissed?” Kast asked.

“I’m not going to talk about personnel issues,” Mosby replied. “With any new administration, there is change.”

Mosby then discussed her new leadership team and being “swamped” with internal applications for leadership positions in the office she deliberately left open.

Kast brought the conversation back to her original question, asking about the circumstances for removing a prosecutor during a trial, as Mosby reportedly did last week.

“As I said before, I can’t get into the personnel issues,” Mosby said.

“But I’m asking the policy question of whether there is not a concern when the prosecutor is in the middle of a trial,” Kast said.

“And, again, I can’t get into the specifics of a personnel issue,” Mosby said. “I want to ensure the public and the crime victims that we represent that all cases will be handled with the professionalism and given the attention they deserve.”

(I should note the last sentence is exactly what Tammy Brown, the office’s chief of external affairs, told me last week when I asked about the firings.)

Kast allowed that The Baltimore Sun “may have misreported” the details of the firing but returned to her earlier question about the policy issues surrounding such a move.

“Legally, I cannot discuss and will not discuss personnel issues,” Mosby said.

(Kast, for the record, never asked for names or details about the firings, only how many people were let go.)

Kast noted Mosby talked earlier in the interview about how transparency is another top priority for her. Mosby agreed but once again would not say how many people she fired when asked by Kast.

“We indicated that prior to coming onto the show and I’m indicating that again to you now as well,” Mosby said.

(What agreements were made prior to the show, if any, I don’t know; Kast did not respond to Mosby’s comment.)

Kast’s questioning reminded me that we still do not know the extent of the firings at the state’s attorney’s office. So I tried to figure it out using a highly-unscientific method — the Wayback Machine.

I looked at prosecutors on the state’s attorney’s office contact list as of today and compared it to prosecutors on the contact list from Dec. 18, when Bernstein was still the city’s top prosecutor. Obviously, some people might have left on their own or retired, and the contact list in Mosby’s office still needs to be updated to reflect her new hires.

But, based on my unofficial count, there are approximately 300 prosecutors in Mosby’s office, down from approximately 330 prosecutors on Dec. 18.

If you have anything you’d like to share about what’s going on the prosecutor’s office,I’d be happy to hear from you.

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