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Judge preserves officers’ defamation, malicious prosecution claims against Mosby

Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby addresses the media Wednesday in west Baltimore with a mural depicting Freddie Gray behind her. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

A federal judge Friday preserved defamation and malicious prosecution claims brought by five Baltimore city police officers against State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and the sheriff’s office member who signed charging documents in connection with the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.

Also pending  are claims for invasion of privacy and other Fourth Amendment violations, according to Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis’ order.

Garbis dismissed claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, conspiracy and violations of the 14th Amendment and Fourth Amendment based on Mosby’s presentations to the grand jury.

Garbis also dismissed all claims against the state, which has not waived sovereign immunity.

A case planning conference will be held “promptly,” according to online court records.

Garbis heard arguments on the motions to dismiss in October, which centered on Mosby’s immunity from civil suits when doing her job as a prosecutor.

Taking the plaintiffs’ factual allegations as true, Garbis found plausible the officers’ claims that there was no probable cause to arrest and prosecute them. The claims are also sufficient to support a claim of deprivation of rights under the Fourth Amendment, Garbis ruled.

“Allegations are not evidence,” Garbis said in a footnote. “The Court is not deciding whether Plaintiffs can present evidence adequate to avoid summary judgment.”

As for Mosby’s remarks at a press conference announcing the charges, Garbis said some of them were “at least plausibly, if not obviously, defamatory,” placing the plaintiffs in a false light.

In regards to Mosby’s argument that she was immune to constitutional claims, Garbis ruled the plaintiffs ostensibly refuted her argument she was acting as a prosecutor throughout the relevant time period. But the judge emphasized that evidence later may show she is entitled to that immunity.

The lawsuits were filed in April and May in both state and federal court by Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and William Porter. Officer Caesar Goodson has not filed suit to date.

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