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Judge sets hearing schedule for final weeks before Mosby trial

Attorneys for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby have filed a number of motions seeking to have charges against her dismissed or to restrict how prosecutors can lay out the case against her during her trial. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The federal judge handling Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s criminal case has scheduled a final set of hearings to deal with outstanding legal issues ahead of the trial that starts Sept. 19.

In an updated scheduling order filed this week, U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby set two pretrial hearings for Sept. 7 and Sept. 14.

Mosby faces two counts each of perjury and making false statements on loan applications. The indictment, which came down in January, loomed over the Democratic primary for Baltimore state’s attorney for months as Mosby sought reelection.

She ultimately lost, placing third out of three candidates, and will be out of office early next year. But for now, Mosby remains Baltimore’s top prosecutor and will face trial during her final months in office.

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There are a host of disputes to deal with before the trial can begin, including a pending motion to dismiss two of the four counts against Mosby.

Griggsby will consider motions in limine, which deal with what evidence can be presented at the trial, at the first pretrial hearing on Sept. 7.

Federal prosecutors have asked Griggsby to block the defense from telling jurors that Mosby is the victim of a vindictive prosecution. Mosby’s lawyers previously tried to have the case thrown out on that basis, claiming that the government targeted Mosby for prosecution out of personal animus or other improper bias. Griggsby rejected that argument.

“The only reason to advance these categories of evidence or argument—other than generating public attention—would be to confuse jurors or to encourage jury nullification,” prosecutors wrote in their motion in limine.

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The defense and prosecution have also sparred over expert witnesses. Mosby’s team claims the government is seeking to admit improper expert testimony from witnesses who will explain her finances and the amount of taxes she owed to the IRS.

The indictment alleges that Mosby falsely claimed financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to withdraw money from her city retirement account. She is also accused of failing to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien and making a series of other false statements when she applied for mortgages on two vacation properties in Florida.

Mosby has asked Griggsby to block prosecutors from using the terms “financial hardship” or “hardship withdrawal” during the trial, and from telling jurors she used the retirement money to help pay for vacation homes. Her defense team has argued that jurors might become unfairly prejudiced against Mosby if prosecutors can present that information.

Griggsby will consider a motion to dismiss both perjury charges at the second pretrial hearing on Sept. 14. Defense lawyers have argued that Mosby’s self-certification that she suffered a COVID-19-related hardship in order to withdraw money from her retirement account does not qualify as perjury.

The motion to dismiss also claimed that the phrase “adverse financial consequence,” which Mosby had to have experienced in order to qualify for the early retirement withdrawal, is too vague to be the basis for criminal charges.

Griggsby’s decision at the Sept. 14 pretrial hearing will determine what charges go forward for Mosby’s trial, which begins the following Monday.