After going zero for two in her attempts to prosecute the Baltimore police officers involved in the Freddie Gray affair, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby may be finding herself in court in a very different role than the one she’s accustomed to. Giving voice to what many observers have suspected since this entire sordid affair began, two of the officers being targeted by Mosby are suing her for defamation. (Baltimore Sun)
On the surface, this case doesn’t look as if it would make it very far in the courts. While not absolute, there is a general understanding that prosecutors can’t be sued for “doing their jobs” and bringing charges against suspects. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between, requiring extraordinary circumstances of provable malice on the part of the prosecutor. Even then the waters are rather muddy. We can think of the case of Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, two men from Iowa who were jailed for 25 years before being freed after it was shown that they were essentially framed and the prosecutor had withheld evidence which could have proven their innocence. That suit made it all the way to the door of the Supreme Court where the justices were indicating that they might be disposed to allow the case, but the county decided to settle with the men out of court and the case was dismissed.
While there may have been no final resolution to the question of whether or not you can sue a prosecutor, that lawsuit shows the dramatic extremes required to even try. And that was in a prosecution which looked like it was entirely based on fraud. White and Porter will likely have a very steep road ahead of them to even get a full hearing. This is a case where a suspect did, in fact, die in police custody under circumstances which were at least questionable enough to merit a look by a grand jury. In that context, the general standard for prosecutorial immunity may allow Mosby to have this petition dismissed.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.