Risk Update

Conflicts Complexity — Unfolding Clash Over Comments and Confidentiality + MSG Now Getting Probed by NY AG

January 19: “All 6 of Marilyn Mosby’s defense lawyers ask to be removed from case” —

  • “The six defense attorneys representing former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby against federal mortgage fraud and perjury charges asked Thursday to be removed from her case.”
  • “Mosby’s lead attorney, A. Scott Bolden, and three others from his firm — Rizwan Qureshi, Kelley Miller and Anthony Todd, all of Reed Smith LLP — said that an order from U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby that found Bolden violated the Maryland rules governing attorney conduct created a conflict of interest for them.”
  • “At a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Griggsby ordered Bolden to explain in writing by Jan. 31 why she shouldn’t hold him in criminal contempt of court for using profanity to criticize the court, why he divulged confidential juror information in a legal motion, and why he filed that same motion without a Maryland lawyer’s signature. Based in Washington, D.C., Bolden is not licensed to practice in Maryland and needs to co-file all papers with someone who is, per the court’s rules of attorney conduct.”
  • “Mosby, a Democrat who served two, four-year terms as state’s attorney ending earlier this month, is charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications for down payments on a pair of properties in Florida.”
  • “Her attorneys said in the filing she consented to their withdrawing from her defense. Griggsby has to approve the lawyers’ request to withdraw from the case.”
  • “The reason Bolden would withdraw from the case is because he may no longer feel he can properly represent his client with possible criminal punishment hanging over his own head, said David Jaros, faculty director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform.”
  • “‘While it’s not an inherent conflict, there are reasons to be concerned and you certainly wouldn’t want the attorney to be reluctant to challenge the decisions of the judge and argue on behalf of their client because they didn’t want to further anger the judge,’ Jaros said. ‘We don’t want the attorney to be thinking about what the judge thinks about them at trial. We want the attorney to be focused on the best defense for their client.'”

January 25: “Marilyn Mosby’s lead attorney in federal case says he can’t represent her because he might be in trouble, too” —

  • “A. Scott Bolden, the lawyer leading former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s federal criminal defense, can no longer represent her because he might soon be in legal trouble too, he said in a court filing Wednesday explaining why he wants off the case.”
  • “Last Thursday, all six attorneys representing Mosby asked to be removed from the case and to have the city’s former top prosecutor represented by the federal public defender.”
  • “Federal prosecutors said they’re fine with Bolden withdrawing from the case but argued the remaining five attorneys — including three from Bolden’s firm, Reed Smith LLP — should remain on the case to avoid another postponement of Mosby’s trial, slated for March.”

January 25: “Mosby’s lead attorney argues potential contempt charges present case conflict” —

  • “The lead defense attorney representing Marilyn Mosby in a federal perjury trial filed a new motion Wednesday arguing why he and other colleagues of the Reed Smith law firm should be allowed to withdraw from the case.”
  • “A. Scott Bolden suggests there is an existing conflict of interest since he personally faces potential criminal contempt of court charges.”
  • “He states Mosby or his colleagues could be called as witnesses in future proceedings against him, and that would put the firm in an untenable position to fairly represent Mosby.”
  • “‘As a general matter, the possibility of criminal sanctions against Mr. Bolden and the divided loyalties that it creates do not only affect Mr. Bolden, but the other Reed Smith attorneys as well,’ the new filing reads.”

Reed Smith asks to drop representation of former Baltimore state’s attorney after judge threatens sanctions” —

  • “During the press conference, Bolden criticized the government in a dispute over expert witnesses and referred to government action as ‘all bulls- – -.’ He also said: ‘If you’re in the federal government, you’re in the state government, you’re an African-American politician working for the government, you are at risk because of the U.S. attorney’s office’ in Maryland.”
  • “Bolden apologized in court for his use of profanity.”
  • “Bolden said he had used ‘anonymous quotations’ from jury questionnaires to respond to government arguments and to show that pretrial publicity had tainted the jury pool. The local rule didn’t specifically ban use of quotations from jury questionnaires, and if it did, there was no reasonable likelihood that it would interfere with a fair trial, the response said.”

MSG probed over use of facial recognition to eject lawyers from show venues” —

  • “The operator of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall is being probed by New York’s attorney general over the company’s use of facial recognition technology to identify and exclude lawyers from events. AG Letitia James’ office said the policy may violate civil rights laws. Because of the policy, lawyers who work for firms involved in litigation against MSG Entertainment Corp. can be denied entry to shows or sporting events, even when they have no direct involvement in any lawsuits against MSG. A lawyer who is subject to MSG’s policy may buy a ticket to an event but be unable to get in because the MSG venues use facial recognition to identify them.”
  • “James’ office sent a letter (PDF) Tuesday to MSG Entertainment, noting reports that it ‘used facial recognition software to forbid all lawyers in all law firms representing clients engaged in any litigation against the Company from entering the Company’s venues in New York, including the use of any season tickets.”
  • “‘We write to raise concerns that the Policy may violate the New York Civil Rights Law and other city, state, and federal laws prohibiting discrimination and retaliation for engaging in protected activity,’ Assistant AG Kyle Rapinan of the Civil Rights Bureau wrote in the letter. ‘Such practices certainly run counter to the spirit and purpose of such laws, and laws promoting equal access to the courts: forbidding entry to lawyers representing clients who have engaged in litigation against the Company may dissuade such lawyers from taking on legitimate cases, including sexual harassment or employment discrimination claims.'”
  • “The AG’s office also said it is concerned that ‘facial recognition software may be plagued with biases and false positives against people of color and women.’ The letter asked MSG Entertainment to respond by February 13 ‘to state the justifications for the Company’s Policy and identify all efforts you are undertaking to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and that the Company’s use of facial recognition technology will not lead to discrimination.'”
  • “‘To be clear, our policy does not unlawfully prohibit anyone from entering our venues and it is not our intent to dissuade attorneys from representing plaintiffs in litigation against us,’ said an MSG spokesperson in a statement. ‘We are merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation. Most importantly, to even suggest anyone is being excluded based on the protected classes identified in state and federal civil rights laws is ludicrous. Our policy has never applied to attorneys representing plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or employment discrimination.'”