After announcing criminal charges Friday against all six officers suspended in the death of Freddie Grey, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor, just 35 years old and on the job for less than four months, is facing the biggest challenge of her career.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, a Democrat, ousted an established white opponent by promising to hold police accountable. She accused him of being too cosy with officers and too out of touch with the citizens of Baltimore. Mosby and her husband, Nick Mosby, a Baltimore city councilman, are black and live just blocks from the poverty-stricken community where riots broke out Monday following Grey’s funeral.
Grey died in police custody in April. He was arrested when police found a switchblade on him. Riots followed his burial, with residents accusing the police of brutality.
“I think it’s very unique that a chief prosecutor who — as young as she is, who lives in a community that has a high amount of violence — that’s very unique and she’s probably the only one in the entire country,” Nick Mosby said. “She’s from the inner city, she lives in the inner city, she knows the inner city.”
Mosby grew up in Boston and was raised by a single mother, according to New York Magazine.
In 1994, her 17-year-old cousin was killed outside her home by another teen who mistook him for a drug dealer, according to Time.
She met her husband while they were students at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Time notes that she was the first in her family to graduate from college.
After getting her undergraduate degree, Mosby graduated from Boston College Law School.
She clerked at U.S. Attorney’s offices in Boston and Washington and joined the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office in 2005, moving up the ranks before leaving to work for an insurance company. She defeated incumbent Gregg Bernstein, who outraised her three-to-one, in last June’s Democratic primary, and faced only write-in opposition in the general election.
Her official biography declares that “she is the youngest chief prosecutor of any major city in America.”
She has law enforcement in her blood. She said during a news conference on Friday that she comes from five generations of police officers, ABC News notes. Her mother, father, grandfather, and uncles were all cops.
Mosby has two daughters.
Her campaign promises
During her swearing-in ceremony, Mosby addressed the work that needs to be done improving relations between police and the local communities, and said that “the public cannot and should not be led to believe that, through statement or action, that justice is accessible to some and not to all.”
“As a black woman who understands just how much the criminal justice system disproportionately affects communities of colour, I will seek justice on your behalf,” she said, according to WBAL TV.
Mosby reiterated this point in a January interview with Baltimore magazine.
“I talked about this throughout my campaign: There are barriers of distrust within the community and law enforcement, and we’ve got to find ways to bring down these barriers,” she told the magazine. “It’s never been more evident than now, right? It’s the political climate all across the country.”
Mosby also discussed how police abuses lead to community distrust of the police.
“We can’t allow individuals in the police to usurp their authority and to go above the people,” she said. “They’re in place to protect and serve, and if they abuse that authority what it does is it exacerbates the distrust within the criminal justice system and then we end up where we are today.”
WBAL TV quoted attorney Richard Woods saying that “with all the controversy with the police department, Marilyn Mosby is the person we want in charge.”
When she was elected in November, Mosby told The Daily Record newspaper she was excited for the opportunity “to change what has happened in the community.”
“I’m living out my dream to reform the criminal justice system,” Mosby said.
Her record on cases she’s handled so far
Mosby’s record in high-profile cases has been mixed thus far.
In January, the morning after she was sworn into office, she announced manslaughter charges against an Episcopal bishop in the hit-and-run death of a cyclist. The bishop, Heather Cook, had not even been arrested when Mosby told a packed news conference that Cook had been drunkenly text-messaging at the time of the crash.
Mosby failed, however, to obtain a third trial for a man accused in the slaying of a teenage honour student from North Carolina. Defence attorneys said the re-indictment violated Constitutional protections against double jeopardy, and a judge threw it out. Her office is pursuing an appeal.
Mosby was also criticised for firing several veteran prosecutors, some of them in the middle of trials. But she drew praise from lawyers for her leadership team.
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