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4th Circuit stays civil suits against Mosby pending appeal on immunity issue

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, left, arrives at Maryland Court of Appeals on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Annapolis. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (AP file photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A federal appeals court has stayed civil proceedings against Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby while she appeals a judge’s ruling that she is not immune from the lawsuits filed by five of the officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled in January that Mosby had not shown that she was entitled to absolute or qualified immunity from suit. The underlying lawsuits claim defamation, malicious prosecution, invasion of privacy and Fourth Amendment violations.

Garbis denied her request for a stay in March and said he “does not, by any means, consider Mosby’s appeal to be meritorious.” A spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, which represents Mosby, said federal appellate rules required seeking a stay from the trial court judge before asking the appellate court.

Mosby appealed Garbis’ ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked that proceedings in the trial court be stayed because she will suffer irreparable harm if she is required to participate in extensive and intrusive discovery.

The 4th Circuit issued a stay of all trial proceedings Thursday as well as a briefing schedule, with opening briefs due June 13.

In declining to extend Mosby’s prosecutorial immunity to the officers’ lawsuits, Garbis found plausible the officers’ claims that there was no probable cause to arrest and prosecute them. The allegations are also sufficient to support a claim of deprivation of rights under the Fourth Amendment and the officers ostensibly refuted her argument she was acting as a prosecutor throughout the relevant time period, Garbis ruled.

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.

The lawsuits were filed last year in both state and federal court by Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and William Porter. The state court filings were removed to federal court and the matters were consolidated.

The consolidated appellate case is Edward Nero v. Marilyn Mosby, 17-1166.

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