A law professor with a history of taking prosecutors to task has set his sights on the Baltimore state’s attorney, who failed in her bid to put six cops in prison in connection with the racially-charged death of Freddie Gray.
George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf has filed complaints against Marilyn Mosby with the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland. He alleges Mosby and two deputies committed ethics violations, used “fraudulent or misleading tactics," withheld evidence from the defense and brought charges without probable cause against the Baltimore police officers involved in the April 12, 2015 arrest of Gray, who died of injuries suffered inside a police van.
“My concern is that this will encourage other prosecutors from other large cities to do the same,” Banzhaf told FoxNews.com. “The line she [Mosby] is giving her supporters is that the case was a success and that she has been victimized in just bringing them up on charges. “I think her supporters, which she depends on to be re-elected, support what she did.”
Mosby announced last week all charges against the police officers would be dropped. The bombshell announcement came after three were found not guilty and another’s case declared a mistrial.
In the complaint, Banzhaf alleges that Mosby violated state rules of professional conduct for attorneys. He also alleged that Mosby violated rules of conduct with public statements about the case.
In addition to being a law professor, Banzhaf is an activist and watchdog when it comes to the actions of those who work in the court of law and public service. During his career, he has filed complaints against Geraldine Ferraro, Barney Frank and former Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew, who went on to be Richard Nixon’s vice president.
He also threatened to file a complaint against former North Carolina prosecutor Mike Nifong, who was disbarred after his conduct in handling the 2006 Duke lacrosse case, in which three members of the school’s men’s lacrosse team were falsely accused of rape. The charges were eventually dropped by Nifong just days after Banzhaf publicly said that he was considering bring forth a lawsuit against the prosecutor for violating the civil rights of the students. The case sparked a national discussion on due process and led to Nifong’s resignation and subsequent disbarment.
Banzhaf says that he sees similarities between Nifong’s conduct and Mosby’s, and that her career may see the same fate.
“Both of them violated rights of the defendants by not providing exculpatory evidence [to the defense],” he said. “Second, both continued cases long after it was determined who may win.”
The law professor says that in some respects, Mosby’s handling of the Freddie Gray trial may have been the more egregious.
“When Nifong first brought forth the case it was solid, and as time went on, it was not,” he said. “With Mosby, the moment she filed the case, it was known that it couldn’t be brought forward.”
Now that a complaint has been filed, an investigation into the claims will be launched by the state and charges could go forward in 90 days unless it’s determined that the allegations are frivolous. The fallout from the dropped charges in the Freddie Gray case has already sent shockwaves through the State’s Attorney’s office.
Veteran prosecutor Lisa Phelps, who was assigned to try two of the cases against the police officers and had objected to their continued prosecution, resigned from her post on Monday according to the Baltimore Sun.
"Her refusal to continue with a doomed-to-failure criminal case was apparently the straw that forced Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to finally drop all of the remaining Freddie Gray cop cases," said Banzhaf, "and her reluctance to continue may have been caused by my threat to seek her disbarment if she did."
Mosby did not immediately return calls for comment.
Banzhaf said the State Attorney’s motivations may have been greater than just pursuing justice.
“When Nifong filed his case, it was widely suspected that he brought it forth for political purposes,” he said. “In Mosby’s case she virtually said so.”