Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has immunity from charges of wrongful prosecution that were filed against her in a lawsuit by five Baltimore police officers.
The five officers filed the lawsuit against the prosecutor after she brought charges against six of them for their handling of the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody in April of 2015, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Gray’s death in police custody sparked protests that became riots, and resulted in entire blocks of Baltimore being burned.
The officers alleged in their lawsuit that bringing charges against them was a desperate attempt by Mosby to help restore order in the city, which had quickly suffered millions of dollars in damage.
Protesters wanted somebody to blame the police, and Mosby’s charges against the officers fit the bill at the time, the officers’ lawsuit alleged.
However, three of the officers were acquitted in bench trials. Mosby dropped the charges against the others when it was clear she could not successfully prosecute any of them, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Baltimore police investigated their officers’ actions and they were cleared of administrative violations.
The officers’ lawsuit against that state’s attorney alleged that she had defamed them, that she had never had the necessary evidence to charge them, and that she had only brought charges against them to quell the unrest in the city, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Mosby’s attorneys argued that she had prosecutorial immunity for her decision to charge the officers.
In January, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that charges including malicious prosecution, defamation and invasion of privacy could proceed against Mosby and Assistant Baltimore City Sheriff Samuel Cogen, the author of the probable cause statement in the Gray case, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Then in May, a federal appeals court overturned Garbis’ ruling.
In their ruling, the court suggested that that officers were acting entitled and retaliating against Mosby for doing her job.
Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton reported that the court said, “Perhaps to the Officers’ chagrin, they must accept that they are subject to the same laws as every other defendant who has been prosecuted and acquitted. Those laws clearly bar the type of retaliatory suits that the Officers brought here.”
In their ruling, the appeals court is emphasizing that it’s not possible to sue prosecutors, and anybody who is maliciously prosecuted needs to file a complaint with the attorney grievance commission.
“We resoundingly reject the invitation to cast aside decades of Supreme Court and circuit precedent to narrow the immunity prosecutors enjoy,” Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote in their ruling. “And we find no justification for denying Mosby the protection from suit that the Maryland legislature has granted her.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s confirmation of that ruling brings to an end one of the final chapters of the Gray saga.
Mosby celebrated her win and said she was “proud to be a part of the legacy of reform” for police in Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reported.
She said justice had prevailed despite the fact she had not secured a single conviction against the officers she accused in the Gray case because her actions had brought about more accountability for the entire police department.
Mosby took credit for sweeping reforms in the Baltimore Police Department that included the introduction of body cameras, new policies for transporting prisoners, use of force, and responding to requests for medical assistance, and the implementation of a new software that tracks officers’ receipt of policies and policy updates.
Several of the officers charged in the Gray case had successfully proven they had never been trained on some of the department’s newer transport policies.
“This is the meaning of reform,” Mosby said. “Because of that reform, we have a spotlight on the entrenched police corruption of one of the largest police departments in the country.”
She also said she felt “justice has prevailed because every single Baltimore police officer is being held accountable for the actions of a few,” The Baltimore Sun reported.