Judge rules again for Freddie Gray cops in suit against Mosby

A lawsuit against Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, brought by the police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death, will go forward, a federal judge ruled Monday. 

Judge Marvin Garbis denied Mosby's motion for a stay of all discovery in the case. That means Mosby may have to turn over evidence, including internal emails, to the plaintiffs.

Much of the judge's ruling rests on the fact that the plaintiffs also sued Major Samuel Cogen of the Sheriff's Department, who signed off on the charges Mosby's office prepared. 

Because Cogen has not fought the suit, the suit against him would continue even if Mosby were dropped from the complaint, and so Mosby and her office would still have to produce many of the same documents in discovery, Garbis ruled: "The discovery contemplated in the instant case is not 'unnecessary,' nor would it cause irreparable injury, because almost all of the same claims have been asserted against Cogen, who has not appealed." 

Prosecutors enjoy broad immunity from lawsuits stemming from their legal decisions, on the theory that, if they did not, they could not do the job vigorously.

Gray died of a spinal injury sustained in the back of a police transport van in April 2015, setting off protests and riots. Mosby criminally charged the six officers involved in Gray's arrest, after conducting a hasty independent investigation. She did not wait for a grand jury to indict, and she did not trust the department's own detectives to do an honest job. She complained that the BPD failed to serve a search warrant on the arresting officers' phones, for example. 

Many cheered Mosby's decision to charge the police officers. But the cases fell apart; prosecutors simply did not have evidence the police officers did anything illegal, or even wrong, save for their habitual failure to seat-belt prisoners like Gray inside the transport van. 

But because Mosby stepped outside of the normal processes, she has apparently opened herself up to this lawsuit. Eli Hager of The Marshall Project summarizes:

"Of course, a prosecutor who does her own investigation instead of relying on the officers involved, who does not rely on the grand jury process, and who is willing to risk her co-dependent relationship with beat cops in the process, is exactly what many activists have been demanding. But it's precisely because Mosby took each of those atypical steps that she is a defendant now." 

The officers are suing for false arrest, defamation, and civil rights violations. 

Click here for more from Edward Ericson Jr. or email Edward at eericson@citypaper.com

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