Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby’s late filing in his ethics case has won him another delay, with the hearing date now postponed to February 13.
That means the hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court will be taking place nearly eight months after Mosby first appealed an Ethics Board’s finding against him – and nearly three months after his appeal was supposed to have been heard.
Mosby got a reprieve in November from Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill after saying he’d been unable to find a lawyer.
Today, bolstered by a lawyer who had filed a 26-page memorandum two days after Christmas, Mosby was back before the judge.
After a 20-minute hearing, Fletcher-Hill decided to allow the late memorandum, but not without a note of exasperation.
“When I delayed it back in November, I was quite clear that I intended to hear the merits today,” Fletcher-Hill complained.
“Incredibly late filing”
Mosby’s attorney, Robert Fulton Dashiell, said he had needed time to formulate his arguments brought to him on short notice.
“Our office was just contacted just a few weeks ago near the middle of December. I was actually away on vacation at the time,” Dashiell said.
A lengthy memorandum was needed to lay out arguments ahead of a precedent-setting decision, he explained.
“We think this is a very important case – not just important to Mr. Mosby, but to all of the elected officials of this city because we believe it to be a case of first impression.”
Sarah Hall who represents the Ethics Board, argued that Dashiell purposely filed the memo in the midst of the holiday season as “a tactic” intended “to deprive the board of its full right under the rules” to respond.
Seeking, unsuccessfully, to have Dashiell’s memo stricken, Hall argued that Mosby had “made no factual proffer or offered any real reason for his incredibly late filing.”
Legal Defense Fund
The dispute with the ethics board involves a legal defense “trust” set up in 2021 as Mosby and his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, faced a federal criminal investigation into their financial affairs.
Marilyn Mosby was indicted last January on four counts of perjury and making false statements. Now set to go on trial in March 2023, she is asking for her case to be moved to a courtroom outside of Baltimore.
Nick Mosby was not charged in the federal indictment, but was cited last May by the city Ethics Board as part of its own investigation of the legal defense fund.
Using the names, credentials and pictures of the Mosbys, the fund raised over $14,000, including $5,100 from “controlled donors,” or persons doing business with Baltimore City.
Ordered to release donors’ names and return money given by those doing business with the city, Mosby has refused.
Last May, the board ordered Nick Mosby to “disclaim” any beneficiary interest in the fund, release the names of all donors and return money given by controlled donors, or those doing business with the city.
He refused and filed for a judicial review pro se, or without the help of an attorney.
Recently, the ethics board asked the judge to penalize Mosby for noncompliance, saying he “is seeking only to delay” the proceedings. A fine of up to $1,000 a day can be imposed for failing to follow an ethics order.
Fletcher-Hill noted today that he has not yet ruled on that motion, which remains pending.