The lead defense attorney for former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is facing possible criminal penalties for violating court rules, the judge overseeing the case said Tuesday in a surprise move.
The attorney, A. Scott Bolden, has until Jan. 31 to explain why he should not be held in criminal contempt or referred for possible criminal prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby said.
Griggsby said she is also considering revoking Bolden’s admission to district court in Maryland in response to what she said were a series of rule violations by the lawyer.
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Bolden did not comment on the unusual rebuke as he left the federal courthouse with his client Tuesday afternoon.
Griggsby said Bolden violated local court rules on multiple occasions, including at a news conference he held outside the courthouse in September, after Mosby’s trial was postponed for a second time.
Bolden said at the news conference that state and federal employees and African American politicians like Mosby were at risk of being targeted for prosecution if they withdrew money from their retirement accounts under emergency pandemic rules.
Mosby is accused of lying about suffering a pandemic-related financial loss in order to withdraw money from her city retirement account, as well as making false statements when she applied for mortgages on two Florida vacation properties. The $90,000 she pulled from her retirement account went toward down payments on the properties.
Bolden in September also said it was “bulls—” that federal prosecutors blamed the defense for another postponement of Mosby’s trial, now set for March. Defense lawyers rebuffed repeated requests for more information about proposed expert witnesses for the trial, which led to the delay.
Griggsby noted both statements as violations of local court rules related to comments lawyers can make about a pending case.
The judge also said Bolden violated the rules in a Sept. 29 filing that quoted from confidential juror questionnaires to argue that potential jurors were biased against Mosby. Griggsby immediately ordered the filing stricken on Sept. 30 and demanded that Bolden explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for including the private information.
Bolden also submitted that filing without the signature of any Maryland defense counsel, Griggsby said Tuesday, in another violation of local rules. Although Mosby has lawyers who are based in Maryland, they did not sign onto the motion, signaling a rift among the defense team.
The filing referenced potential jurors’ numbers, but did not use their names, and quoted four juror questionnaires. 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 filing.
Another juror concluded an “otherwise revolting racist statement” with the comment that Mosby is “guilty as sin.”
In court Tuesday, Bolden apologized for using profanity at the September news conference and said the defense did not intentionally violate court rules when it included quotes from juror questionnaires.
“I do not want to run afoul of this court,” Bolden said. “It is a learning process.”
It seemed at first that Bolden might escape with a warning from Griggsby. But the judge went further, notifying Bolden that he faced possible criminal contempt for the rule violations.
Because a finding of criminal contempt carries the possibility of criminal penalties, Bolden is entitled to due process. He will have another opportunity to be heard and can obtain counsel to represent him in the contempt proceedings.
It is unclear what penalties Griggsby is considering.