Puff, puff — hard pass: A pair of Baltimore city judges have denied Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s request to throw out some 5,000 marijuana convictions.
In a ruling Friday, Baltimore District Court Judge Kathleen Sweeney said Mosby had failed to show what “disparate impact” said convictions had on those found guilty. The judge also questioned Mosby’s reasoning in even trying to have the convictions thrown out, noting that Mosby, as a state’s attorney, had prosecuted some of the cases.
“Now, this same State’s Attorney claims that drug enforcement in Baltimore City, presumably her own efforts, have had a disparate impact on African-Americans,” Sweeney wrote, according to the Baltimore Sun.
In January, Mosby announced that she would stop prosecuting marijuana cases and ask the courts to throw out thousands of convictions dating to 2011. She asked the Baltimore District Court to dismiss almost 3,800 cases, and the Baltimore Circuit Court, represented by Circuit Judge W. Michel Pierson, to dismiss about 1,000 convictions.
As the Sun explained:
Mosby has argued that marijuana convictions have saddled thousands in Baltimore with criminal records and frustrated their job searches. She has said these arrests disproportionately affected minority neighborhoods in Baltimore.
Nationwide, African-Americans are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana. The ratio jumps to six times more likely in Baltimore, Mosby wrote in a report about her new marijuana policy.
However, Judge Sweeney said Mosby failed to prove the consequences faced by those convicted of the marijuana offenses and said those convicted have the opportunity to have their records expunged.
“With 3,778 opportunities, the State fails to identify any actual single consequence suffered by any of these individuals,” Sweeney wrote.
Mosby, in an email to reporters Monday, said she was disappointed by the judges’ ruling and that she was thinking about her next move.
“The role that courts play in our society is to be a place of last resort for people who have been wronged,” Mosby wrote, WBFF Fox Baltimore reported. “I am deeply disappointed that this ruling did not afford us any opportunity to present legal arguments and essentially eliminated the court from being a safe harbor for those that were harmed by the discriminatory enforcement of marijuana laws in this city. My office is considering our options and will pursue all avenues to ensure we continue standing up for the people of Baltimore.”