Biglaw Partner Gets Benchslapped By Federal Judge, Avoids Criminal Contempt

Biglaw Partner Gets Benchslapped By Federal Judge, Avoids Criminal Contempt
Feb 2023

Biglaw Partner Gets Benchslapped By Federal Judge, Avoids Criminal Contempt
Reed Smith partner A. Scott Bolden represented former Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, but the latest controversy revolves around Bolden's actions. Reed Smith attorneys have since withdrawn from Mosby's case, but U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett was still referred the matter of Bolden's conduct as potential criminal contempt after a finding by Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby of the District of Maryland.

So what *did* Bolden do? As reported by ABA Journal:

Part of Bolden's misconduct stemmed from his statements at a press conference after Griggsby granted a government motion to continue Mosby's trial, according to Bennett's opinion. Mosby is accused of lying to make a hardship withdrawal from her retirement account and making false statements on mortgage applications to buy two homes in Florida.

During a September 2022 press conference, Bennett said, Bolden "exposited at length on the latest developments in the case, expressing outrage that the trial had been continued, characterizing the hearing as 'bulls- - -,' and suggesting that the prosecution of Ms. Mosby was motivated by racial animus."

Griggsby found that Bolden's profanity and extrajudicial statements violated local court rules. She also found that Bolden violated court rules by disclosing confidential jury questionnaire responses, along with associated juror numbers, in a court filing. And she found that he violated court rules by filing a court document without the signature of a Maryland lawyer. Bolden was appearing pro hac vice in the case.

Bennett didn't take kindly to Bolden's "theatrics and profanity," saying they're "contrary to the traditions of civility and collegiality" of the court. But while his actions were a violation of local rules, that isn't the same as criminal contempt.

If the statute permitted criminal contempt for violations of local court rules, it would "in theory, license this court to impose criminal contempt upon any attorney who omits a fax number from the bottom of a court document ... , submits a filing using a 1.25-inch margin ... or supplies only three copies of an arrest warrant," Bennett said.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, the judge called Bolden on the carpet over his behavior, saying, "You're better than this. A person of your experience should never find himself in this position." And the guilt trip worked -- at a hearing on the matter, Bolden apologized repeatedly. Bolden reportedly "sounded as if he was holding back tears when addressing Bennett."

Bolden's attorney, Arnold Weiner, said of the decision, "We think the judge made an absolutely correct ruling as a matter of law," and that Bolden is a man of "high integrity," and will practice law "honorably."

Biglaw Partner Gets Benchslapped By Federal Judge, Avoids Criminal Contempt
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon