The lawyers for a Baltimore man facing his fifth trial in a 2015 murder are seeking to have city State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby held in contempt for comments she made in a radio interview soon after a judge issued a gag order blocking lawyers from discussing the case.
A motion filed Tuesday accused Mosby of violating the order when she mentioned details of the case against Keith Davis Jr. during a radio interview on WYPR. The motion also asks Judge John Nugent to throw out the charges against Davis as a sanction for the violation.
“The egregiousness of (Mosby’s) conduct requires dismissal because it is impossible to erase the taint of guilt that she has created and her conduct demonstrates that she is unable to conform her behavior,” Davis’ lawyers wrote.
Deborah Katz Levi, a public defender who is one of several lawyers defending Davis, declined to comment on the motion Thursday.
“In accordance with the court’s order in this case, we have no comment,” she said in an email.
A spokesperson for Mosby did not return a message seeking comment.
The motion requests a finding of civil contempt against Mosby, which means incarceration is not being sought as a consequence.
The motion asks Nugent to order Mosby to explain why she should not be held in contempt for violating the June 7 gag order. The violation is especially egregious, the motion argues, because Mosby’s office requested the gag order.
The gag order blocks lawyers, paralegals and support staff from making comments about the case “intended to influence public opinion.” The case has attracted widespread attention, in part through the efforts of activists and Davis’ wife, Kelly Davis, who have fought to have the charges dropped.
Davis is set to face trial for a fifth time in the fatal shooting of Pimlico Race Course security guard Kevin Jones. Two of his earlier trials ended in hung juries, and two others ended in convictions but were later overturned. Davis was also tried and acquitted of an alleged robbery on the same day Jones was killed, June 7, 2015.
Police who suspected Davis in the robbery pursued him into a garage and shot at him repeatedly, striking him three times. A handgun was recovered from on top of a refrigerator in the garage, though Davis and his supporters claim that it was planted there.
Mosby has faced criticism for the repeated prosecutions. Davis’ backers created a website raising questions about the evidence in the case and have sought other publicity to raise awareness of what they argue is a vindictive prosecution.
Nugent granted the prosecutors’ request for a gag order — though he declined to include Davis’ wife and activist DeRay Mckesson, who is involved in the effort to bring public attention to the case — in the late morning of June 7. Mosby was included under the order.
Shortly after the ruling, Mosby appeared on WYPR’s “Midday” show and responded to a question about the Davis case from host Tom Hall. Mosby acknowledged that a gag order was in place.
Mosby did not discuss the case in detail, but made comments about how she would go to trial four or five times as part of her effort to get justice for crime victims. She also referenced the outcomes of Davis’ past trials.
She also said: “I can’t talk about the specifics of that case, but I can tell you that we are going to fight, and if a case has nothing substantively to do with the fact that we believe this is an individual that committed the offense, we’re going to fight for justice for that family.”
Nugent has not ruled on the motion to hold Mosby in contempt. He also has yet to rule on a motion to dismiss the case for vindictive prosecution. He declined last week to move Davis’ fifth trial to another county because of publicity about the case.