Madeleine O'Neill//November 2, 2022
//November 2, 2022
A group of Baltimore news organizations is asking a federal judge to unseal Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s request to move her criminal trial out of the city.
The Daily Record, The Baltimore Sun and The Baltimore Banner joined a motion arguing that the public has a right to know why Mosby is seeking a change of venue for her federal trial on perjury and mortgage fraud charges.
Mosby filed a document under seal late last month, as she has a few times throughout her criminal case. U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby followed that document with a scheduling order that identified the filing as a motion for a change of venue.
It is not clear whether Mosby’s lawyers will oppose unsealing the motion for a change of venue. In a previous court filing, her lawyers claimed that the jury pool is biased against Mosby and blamed media coverage of the case.
Mosby’s lead attorney, A. Scott Bolden, included responses to juror questionnaires in that filing to prove his point.
One prospective juror wrote, “I have already determined (Mosby’s) guilt. I have been following this case from the very start of the indictment,” according to the defense filing. (Bolden is facing a possible court sanction for including confidential information from juror questionnaires in the filing.)
Details of why Mosby wants to move her trial out of Baltimore remain uncertain, however, because she filed the motion under seal.
The news outlets wrote that Griggsby would have to find a “substantial probability” that unsealing the motion for a change of venue would prejudice Mosby’s right to a fair trial.
“It is difficult to imagine how allowing the public and the press access to defendant’s motion to change venue could possibly reach this threshold,” wrote Hugh J. Marbury, one of the lawyers for the news organizations.
“Moreover, even if defendant could make that showing, the court would still need to find that sealing the motion would somehow prevent that prejudice, and that is inconceivable, given the already highly publicized nature of this case.”
Under an earlier court order, interested parties can object to documents being filed under seal in the case. The news outlets have objected previously, and Griggsby unsealed some court filings in May after Mosby’s defense team agreed they could be made public. Mosby objected to unsealing a second document, and Griggsby allowed it to remain private.
Mosby’s lawyers have 14 days to respond to the latest objection from the news outlets.
Mosby faces two counts each of perjury and making false statements on mortgage applications. She is accused of falsely claiming a pandemic-related financial loss in order to withdraw $90,000 from her city retirement account in 2020. She put the money toward down payments on two vacation properties in Florida.
She is also accused of failing to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien and making other false statements when she applied for the mortgages on those two Florida properties.g