Two weeks ago, we published a post noting that two of the police officers charged by MD State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby had gone on the offensive and filed a civil suit in Federal Court against her and Maj. Sam Cogen of the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office for defamation and invasion of privacy. (It was Maj. Cogen who signed off on the charging documents against the officers.) Since that post we have learned that a third officer charged in the case, Lieutenant Brian Rice, filed a contemporaneous suit against Mosby and Maj. Cogen on similar grounds.

All three officers claim that both Mosby and Cogen knew that the officers had committed no crime, but nevertheless brought serious criminal charges against them–including manslaughter, felony assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office–despite this knowledge.

The officers claim that Mosby and Cogen brought these charges not because they believed the charges were legally justified, but for political advantage and to attempt to quell the riots, looting, and arson taking place throughout Baltimore.  For this reason, they argue that Mosby and Cogen should not receive the immunity that would normally protect them from legal liability for decisions and action made in the course of their duties.

Essential to this theory of the case is that Mosby and Cogen acted with actual malice, rather than mere negligence.  The officers feel malice is supported by the evidence including the Mosby press conference in which she announced the charges and stated to the assembled crowd:

I heard your calls for, ‘No Justice, No peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.

Today the officers’ initial claims of defamation and invasion of privacy seem to have been simply the opening salvo against Mosby and Cogen.  According to a report by LawOfficer.com Sergeant Alicia White and Officer William Porter plan to amend their civil complaint to add new allegations of malicious prosecution, false arrest, and violation of the Maryland declaration of rights, article 24 and 26.  According to Political Insider, Lt. Rice’s complaint against Mosby and Cogen is also expected to be amended to include those additional allegations.

The MD Declaration of Rights, Article 24 reads:

Due Process. That no man ought to be taken or imprisoned or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or, in any manner, destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or by the Law of the land.

The MD Declaration of Rights Article 26 reads:

Warrants for Search and Seizure. That all warrants, without oath or affirmation, to search suspected places, or to seize any person or property, are grievous and oppressive; and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend suspected persons, without naming or describing the place, or the person in special, are illegal, and ought not to be granted.

It is believed that the officers have sued both Mosby and Cogen in part because they hope to induce Cogen to seek to settle the allegations against him in exchange for his testimony against Mosby. The Daily Caller quotes John Banzhaf, a profesor of public interest law at George Washington University, stating:

If enough pressure is put on [Cogen] he may say ‘can we settle mine and I may tell you some conversations I had with Mosby.’ … Provided they have a bona fide claim against him, even if they don’t think its strong or if they don’t think they win it, the motivation may be to get him to turn over evidence.”

Exciting stuff, especially with the next Freddie Gray trial, this time against Police Officer and van driver Caesar Goodson scheduled to begin tomorrow!  Keep your eyes right here at Legal Insurrection for regular updates and analysis.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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