Reed Smith asks to drop representation of former Baltimore state's attorney after judge threatens sanctions

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AP Marilyn Mosby

Then-Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby speaks during a news conference in December 2019 in Baltimore. Photo by Julio Cortez/The Associated Press.

Four lawyers from Reed Smith are asking a judge to allow them to withdraw from the representation of former Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby after a judge threatened sanctions against a law firm partner for violating local court rules.

The Jan. 19 motion says the Reed Smith lawyers, along with two other defense attorneys, would like to withdraw from the case, which accuses Mosby of committing perjury and filing false mortgage applications to buy two homes in Florida.

Law360 and the Baltimore Sun have coverage.

The withdrawal motion says the federal public defender is available to represent Mosby.

The request follows a Jan. 17 opinion by U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby of the District of Maryland finding that Reed Smith partner A. Scott Bolden violated local rules for disclosing confidential jury questionnaire responses in a court filing, using profanity during a September 2022 press conference, making extrajudicial statements during the same press conference, and filing a court document without the signature of a Maryland lawyer. Bolden is appearing pro hac vice in the case.

Griggsby said Bolden violated local rules governing the release of information and the need for out-of-state lawyers admitted pro hac vice to obtain the signature of a Maryland lawyer on court filings. She ordered Bolden to show cause why he shouldn’t be sanctioned for criminal contempt.

During the press conference, Bolden criticized the government in a dispute over expert witnesses and referred to government action as “all bulls- - -.” He also said: “If you’re in the federal government, you’re in the state government, you’re an African-American politician working for the government, you are at risk because of the U.S. attorney’s office” in Maryland.

Bolden apologized in court for his use of profanity.

“If my mother was with us, she’d be hitting me upside the head, as she should,” he said.

Prosecutors said in a Jan. 21 motion they objected to the withdrawal of all the defense lawyers except for Bolden, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Bolden had defended his actions in an Oct. 7, 2022, court filing, also signed by other Reed Smith lawyers.

Bolden said he had used “anonymous quotations” from jury questionnaires to respond to government arguments and to show that pretrial publicity had tainted the jury pool. The local rule didn’t specifically ban use of quotations from jury questionnaires, and if it did, there was no reasonable likelihood that it would interfere with a fair trial, the response said.

In another document filed Oct. 3, 2022, defense lawyers said Bolden’s use of profanity during the press conference was “aberrational,” and his comments about Black politicians were a “10-second sound bite” during a four-minute press conference. The profanity “was solely related to the government’s specious argument in seeking an 11th-hour continuance,” the legal filing said.

Bolden has until Jan. 31 to respond to the order to show cause.

He did not immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s request for comment in an email.

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