By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, [email protected]
Ivan Bates, the defense attorney and candidate for Baltimore City State’s Attorney has saturated the media airwaves for weeks making the claim, “I never lost a murder case.”
However, the woman Bates wants to unseat, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Thiru Vignarajah, who is also a candidate for State’s Attorney, as well as Larry S. Gibson, a veteran attorney and University of Maryland law professor, argue Bates’ claim of `never losing a murder case is’ is dubious at best.
“Ivan Bates, a candidate for State’s Attorney, has repeatedly claimed in political commercials and speeches that he “never lost” a murder case,” said Gibson in an email. “The public record shows that Bates “never won” a murder case.”
Gibson said that when Bates worked in the homicide division of the State’s Attorney’s Office (Bates worked in the SAO from 1999-2002), Bates participated in eight murder cases, but was the lead prosecutor in none of them. “Five of the cases were dismissed. One case was plea bargained. One case was transferred to Juvenile Court,” Gibson said. “The final case ended with an acquittal, after Bates left the prosecutor’s office. He never tried a single murder case.”
“Friends of Marilyn Mosby” issued a statement on Bates’ record June 11. “The truth is that Mr. Bates has never won a conviction in a murder trial and has limited prosecutorial trial experience. His claims of being `undefeated’ are an outright lie,” the statement read.
Vignarajah, a former deputy attorney general for Maryland, echoed Gibson and Mosby’s findings saying his record of zero murder prosecutions as a lead attorney proves “Bates failure as a prosecutor,” according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. In that same Sun story Bates seems to argue Mosby and Vignarajah are teaming up to defeat him on June 26. “It shows what we all thought is that they’re in this together and this is a concerted effort,” Bates said.
With about two weeks to go before the Democratic primary on June 26, several prominent Baltimore attorneys are rallying their support for Mosby.
“I appreciate her courage in the Freddie Gray case, I’m sticking with her,” said veteran defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit. “I think she set a national example, especially with police issues and particularly in Baltimore City.”
The AFRO has learned two other accomplished veteran defense attorneys are also throwing their support behind Mosby; Billy Murphy, the attorney for the family of Freddie Gray, who also endorsed Mosby when she initially ran for State’s Attorney in 2014, and Warren Brown, one of the attorneys representing Dawnta Harris, the 16-year old charged as an adult with first degree murder in the killing of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio.
Gibson points to the racially charged Baltimore County case as an example of one of a litany of attacks by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) against Mosby, a group Gibson claims, Bates is “beholden to.”
“The FOP’s most recent and most malicious act was their May 25 letter to The Sun, “FOP – Mosby’s failure led to Baltimore County officers death.” The FOP falsely accused Mosby, even though the FOP knew that a judge, over the objection of the prosecutor, had ordered the defendant’s home release and that the responsibility to supervise was with the Department of Juvenile Service,” Gibson stated in an email. “In no way was Mosby responsible for the accused young man being at large – and the FOP knew it.”
Gibson added, “The…FOP is trying to take over the State’s Attorney’s Office with a lawyer beholden to the police union. FOP dominance would mean more police corruption, more excessive force, and more resistance to court-ordered police reform in Baltimore,” he stated.
During a phone conversation, Gibson outlined what he believes is perhaps the most important distinction between Bates and Mosby.
“Marilyn Mosby has proven she is competent, courageous, independent and honest,” Gibson said.
“In this era of police corruption scandals and police community tensions, the last thing Baltimore needs is a dishonest prosecutor.”