A. Scott Bolden rose to the pinnacle of his profession as an outspoken trial attorney. He has hosted radio and television programs, served as chairman of the DC Democratic Party, and became the first African-American managing partner at his global law firm.
He had never sat in a criminal defendant’s seat before.
“I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff looking out,” Bolden told a federal judge in Baltimore, his voice cracking with emotion. “If I could take back every statement I made in this case that got me here, I would.”
Marilyn Mosby’s former attorney sat in the defendant’s seat on Tuesday for a judge to decide whether Bolden should be prosecuted for contempt of court. In the end, US District Judge Richard Bennett dismissed the charges, but not before accusing Bolden of spewing the same rhetoric that has made hostility the norm in federal politics.
Bennett was referring to the shouts of “Liar!”. during the President’s State of the Union address and the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
“The court system has stood above the fight and still does. … They got carried away by all the noise and rhetoric we see in other branches of government,” Bennett told him. “We can’t add anything to that; we calm it down.”
The charges stemmed from Bolden’s fierce defense of the former Baltimore Attorney. A judge in Mosby’s ongoing perjury trial found that Bolden had gone too far, violated the court’s confidentiality rules and publicly called the prosecutors’ actions “bullshit.” Bolden made this outburst on the courthouse steps in front of news cameras in September.
“Anger and frustration overwhelmed me. I wish I could take back that profane word. It was inappropriate,” Bolden told the judge. “I am imperfect. … but I’m not a criminal.”
Bennett observed the unprecedented nature of the hearing. In his two decades on the bench, he has never before contemplated a contempt of court charge against an attorney, let alone a top defense attorney for commercial lawyers.
At that very moment, the fire alarm went off and everyone was evacuated to the street. “Another wrinkle in an incredible situation,” the judge noted.
When the hearing resumed, Bennett said he felt Bolden’s “theatricality” and “obscenity” violated the court’s standards but did not merit prosecution.
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“You’re much better than that,” the judge told him. “The thought that you have shamed and dishonored yourself is unfortunate.”
From the beginning of his defense of Mosby, Bolden has hounded federal prosecutors, accusing them of bias based on Mosby’s race, gender and politics. US District Judge Lydia Griggsby – the first black woman to serve as a federal judge in Baltimore – found no basis for his claims and denied his attempts to have the case dropped.
A federal grand jury indicted Mosby more than a year ago on charges of perjury and misrepresentation in a loan application. She is accused of lying to withdraw money from her retirement savings as part of a benefit intended for people finding themselves in financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Griggsby noted that Bolden should be criminally despised for publicly disclosing confidential juror answers in court filings and his comments on the courthouse steps. The judge highlighted his use of profanity.
Bolden withdrew from Mosby’s case, writing that he must now focus on his own defense. Mosby was appointed attorney by the Federal Office of State Defenders. Her trial is expected in the fall.
Meanwhile, law firm Reed Smith LLP announced this month that Bolden would no longer serve as managing partner of its DC office. The law firm’s website said Bolden would continue his work in commercial defense.
Outside the courthouse, Bolden had few words on Tuesday.
“I’m just very grateful, grateful and appreciate the judge’s full consideration and balance of the issues. It’s very humbling. But I just want to practice law again and defend my clients.”