Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wants her federal trial moved to the Greenbelt Division of the District of Maryland to combat negative pretrial publicity, according to newly unsealed court records.
Mosby first asked for a change of venue last month in a sealed filing. Subsequent filings by Mosby’s defense team and the government were unsealed Friday following an order from U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby.
The documents shed light on Mosby’s request to move her trial to Greenbelt, a Washington, D.C., suburb in Prince George’s County. Mosby’s lead attorney, A. Scott Bolden, wrote that the change was necessary because many potential jurors in Baltimore have already formed opinions about the case.
“State’s Attorney Mosby’s motion to transfer this case to a courthouse a mere 30 miles away in the same judicial district offers a pragmatic solution to the problem of public animus in and around Baltimore stirred up by the near-constant flow of publicity surrounding these proceedings and State’s Attorney Mosby more generally,” Bolden wrote.
The federal indictment against Baltimore’s top prosecutor has generated extensive publicity. More than two-thirds of potential jurors in Baltimore reported they had heard of the case, and nearly one-third said they had already formed an opinion.
Mosby’s request for a change of venue references dozens of articles, including in The Daily Record and The Baltimore Sun, about Mosby’s case.
“That coverage has been so pervasive and so negative, that this Court can presume that any jury selected in the Baltimore Division will be prejudiced against State’s Attorney Mosby,” Bolden wrote.
The Daily Record, The Baltimore Sun and The Baltimore Banner objected to Mosby’s request to seal her motion for a change of venue, which led to Griggsby’s order unsealing the motion. Portions of the motion are redacted to protect confidential juror information.
Federal prosecutors oppose a change of venue and argued that voir dire, or the process by which jurors are questioned before being picked for a jury, is enough to protect Mosby’s right to a fair trial.
The government’s response notes that 70% of potential jurors had not formed an opinion about the case, and more than one-third had never even heard of it.
“At its base, the Defendant’s motion is a request for special treatment for her, different from any other defendant, which is particularly inappropriate because Defendant and her counsel have generated much of the media coverage about which she now complains,” prosecutors wrote.
Griggsby has scheduled a hearing on the request for Jan. 17.
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.
In the request for a change of venue, Bolden also argued that there is “little connection to Baltimore in terms of the location where these alleged crimes took place.” The homes are in Florida, Mosby’s lenders are in Michigan and North Carolina, and her retirement plan administrator is based in Ohio.
Bolden also proposed that the court could choose jurors from Greenbelt but still try the case in Baltimore.