By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFRO
Baltimore State’s Attorney three Democratic candidates argued their cases on the WOLB’s “The Larry Young Show” June 13, the eve of early voting in Baltimore.
Young, who has questioned candidates for eight years, described the back and forth as the most contentious in his memory. While maintaining that the event was a forum, not a debate, candidates were nevertheless eager to score points as they picked apart each other’s records and jumped on rhetorical missteps.
Marilyn J. Mosby, the incumbent Baltimore State’s Attorney, who sat between challengers Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah, came out swinging.
Each candidate, at some point, bristled at the rules set out by Young. Particular concern was aired over the lack of opportunity for rebuttal as accusations, counter-accusations and statistics were thrown back and forth.
Mosby, taking advantage of her hot mic, got her rebuttals in with repeated asides of “neither have you,” when Bates repeatedly claimed Mosby has never tried a murder case.
The program, scheduled to run for one hour, ran an extra half hour. One of Young’s last questions asked Mosby to reflect on her handling of the death of Freddie and the charges against officers responsible for his life while Gray was in Baltimore Police Department custody.
Despite the related charges ending in one mistrial, the not guilty verdicts for Officers, Goodson, Nero and Rice, and the dropping of all remaining charges; Mosby reasserted that she would not have done anything differently.
“I am proud of being, is a part of the legacy of Freddie Gray. The legacy of reform,” Mosby said, after taking credit for inspiring the Department of Justice investigation that led to the Baltimore consent decree. “When you think about the fact that officers are now required and mandated to seatbelt all prisoners, officers are required to give medical attention, when asked. There is now full implementation of body-worn cameras on all officers. That was forestalled before those charges.”
“Think. When you sit down, you look at it, you wouldn’t do anything different?” Bates responded. “You lost, so therefore you don’t learn from a loss? Of course there are things you have to do differently. With different people in different positions, you sit down and look at the case differently.”
“The death of Freddie Gray was an opportunity to show the nation how to do a proper sterling investigation of a police-involved death, a police-involved fatality and bring that to justice,” Vignarajah said. The federal prosecutors, in the federal corruption trial, did just that. They showed us that working with local law enforcement, you can build a case-a rock solid case-after the course of a couple of months, with a wire tap, and cooperators and get it into a courtroom and watch it succeed and not crumble.”
Mosby’s challengers, returned to two overarching questions during the forum.
From Bates: Do Baltimoreans feel safer in the knowledge of Vignarajah’s and Mosby’s prosecutorial history?
From Vignarajah: Can Bates and Mosby be relied upon to remain independent and secure convictions?
Mosby maintained that her record speaks for itself.
Early voting begins June 14. Primary election day is June 26. There is no Republican challenger in the Baltimore State’s Attorney primary race. After securing the Democratic nomination in the 2014 race, Mosby ran unopposed for the general.