A. Scott Bolden, the prominent D.C. defense lawyer who until last week represented former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in federal court, has turned to a well-known Baltimore attorney for help as he faces potential criminal contempt charges.
Bolden hired Arnold M. Weiner, a trial lawyer with decades of experience and a history of representing high-profile clients, to handle upcoming criminal contempt proceedings stemming from Bolden’s actions during the Mosby case.
Weiner and several other lawyers from his firm, Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC, entered appearances in Bolden’s criminal contempt case last week, court records show.
The lawyers also asked for more time to respond to findings that U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby made against Bolden two weeks ago. Griggsby has granted the extension.
Weiner declined to comment for this story except to say that his team will file Bolden’s response by the new deadline of Feb. 10.
Bolden withdrew as Mosby’s lead defense attorney — along with the rest of the defense team — last week after Griggsby notified him that he could face criminal penalties for violations of local court rules during Mosby’s high-profile perjury and mortgage fraud case.
Griggsby pointed to a September news conference where Bolden stood on the steps of the federal courthouse and warned that state and federal employees and African American politicians were at risk of being targeted for prosecution if they withdrew money from their retirement accounts under emergency pandemic rules, as Mosby did.
Bolden also said it was “bulls—” that prosecutors blamed the defense for another postponement of Mosby’s trial. Griggsby said the statements violated local court rules that govern what lawyers can say about pending cases.
Bolden also quoted confidential juror questionnaires in a Sept. 29 court filing that did not include the signature of any Maryland defense lawyers, which Griggsby cited as another local rule violation.
Criminal contempt proceedings are relatively rare. Unlike civil contempt, which is used to force compliance with a court order, criminal contempt is aimed at punishing violations of court mandates.
Civil contempt can be avoided by doing what the court wants, such as turning over discovery materials or agreeing to testify after first refusing. Criminal contempt follows a different process.
A judge can summarily punish direct criminal contempt, which occurs in the presence of the court, under the federal rules of criminal procedure. When the contempt takes place out of the court’s presence, the judge is required to give notice so the defendant take steps like hiring a lawyer and preparing a defense.
The judge must also ask a prosecutor to handle the contempt case or appoint another attorney. People facing criminal contempt are entitled to a trial before they can face penalties like jail time or fines.
Griggsby’s notice to Bolden gave him an opportunity to explain why she shouldn’t hold him in criminal contempt or refer his case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution.
Weiner is no stranger to complex and high-profile cases.
He served as the lead defense attorney for former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel, whose 1977 conviction for mail fraud and racketeering was ultimately overturned a decade later, and former U.S. Rep. Edward Garmatz, who faced federal bribery charges that were dropped in 1978 because a key prosecution witness falsified evidence.
Weiner also represented former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon in 2009 when she was found guilty of one count of embezzlement in a gift card-theft scandal.
He is also currently representing another lawyer in trouble: Stephen L. Snyder, the prominent medical-malpractice attorney who is facing a federal attempted extortion charge. Snyder’s case is on hold while a sealed dispute goes before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mosby is now represented by Federal Public Defender James Wyda. Her trial, which was set to begin March 27, will likely be postponed for a third time because of the change in her defense team.
Mosby faces two counts each of perjury and mortgage fraud. Federal prosecutors allege that she lied about suffering a pandemic-related financial loss in order to withdraw money from her city retirement account under emergency COVID-19 rules.
Mosby put the $90,000 she withdrew from her account toward down payments on two vacation homes in Florida, the government claims. The indictment also accuses her of failing to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien and making other false statements when she applied for the mortgages.
Mosby has maintained her innocence. Her previous defense lawyers appeared poised to argue that she suffered a financial setback when her plans to launch a travel company in 2020 were scrapped because of the pandemic.