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Federal appeals court halts suit against prosecutor in Freddie Gray case

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Monday blocked [opinion, PDF] a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby [official website] for malicious prosecution, defamation and false light over Mosby's prosecution of officers in the Freddie Gray case [JURIST report].

The appeals court reviewed Mosby's assertion of absolute prosecutorial immunity for the charges of malicious prosecution under 42 USC § 1983 [text]. The appeals court found that Mosby's actions were part of her duty and "fall squarely under the umbrella of absolute immunity." The officers alleged that Mosby brought the charges against them for the purpose of stopping riots, that she included false information and that she omitted important facts. Citing precedent, the court found that Mosby's selection of facts when determining probable cause is entitled to absolute immunity as well as her decision to file charges.

The court then reviewed the defamation and false-light claims under the Maryland Torts Claim Act (MTCA) [text]. The court found that the officers' claims were not factually supported to show that Mosby's speech at a press conference showed malice or gross negligence required for a claim under the MTCA. Even accepting the officers' allegations as true, Mosby had probable cause to charge them. The appeals court concluded that the lower court committed an error by allowing the claims to proceed and the case against Mosby should be dismissed.

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