Ivan Bates, Local Defense Attorney, Expected to Announce Run for State’s Attorney

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Still via WBAL-TV/YouTube

Ivan Bates is expected to announce tomorrow morning that he’ll be challenging incumbent Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for her seat as the city’s top prosecutor in 2018.

Bates has been gearing up to announce his election bid for months. In March, he informed supporters in an email that he’d formed an exploratory candidate committee. His campaign manager, David Kosak, sent out advisories in late July and yesterday about a “special announcement” happening tomorrow morning at the home of Kendal Fenwick, a late Park Heights resident and activist who was murdered in 2015 after openly pushing back against heavy-handed drug dealers in his neighborhood.

The July email advisory said Bates’ campaign committee had been talking to residents about concerns related to “the ongoing public safety epidemic” in Baltimore. “Sadly, the response has been nearly universal: from the surging murder rate to record increases in violent and property crime, Baltimore is in crisis,” it said.

Bates has also reserved his own website, ivanbates.com, which markets him as a “Democrat for Baltimore City.” The site is sparse, save for this centered piece of politically motivational text:

We must restore confidence in how we successfully prosecute crime, or we further risk the viability of our neighborhoods. I know we can reform the city’s criminal justice system and keep people safe at the same time. Those objectives shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. We can protect the rights of everyone in the city and still have a safe, viable community.

Kosak said on a phone call Friday that he couldn’t confirm whether Bates is formally announcing a run for office tomorrow. A woman who answered the phone at Bates’ private practice on Friday said he wasn’t in the office.

The message on his campaign website echoes motivations similar to ones aired by Mosby in 2013, when she mounted her successful challenge against then-incumbent State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.

“We take pride in our neighborhoods…this is about our communities, about our homes and our children and our loved ones. This is about our families. And at its root, this is about our peace of mind,” Mosby said in her campaign announcement, still available to watch on YouTube.

Bates and Mosby have faced off in the courtroom before. In one of his higher-profile cases, he successfully defended Sgt. Alicia White, one of the six Baltimore police officers who Mosby charged in the in-custody death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in April 2015. White was facing charges of manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment; Mosby dropped all of them on July 27, 2016, after failing to secure convictions for three of White’s fellow officers.

Mosby has presided over a team of prosecutors during a trying time for the city. Murders have climbed since January 2015, the month she assumed office, reaching 344 killings in all of 2015, 318 in 2016 and 224 through the third week of August, a 15 percent jump compared to the same timeframe last year.

While police are responsible for arresting violent offenders, prosecutors are entrusted with charging them appropriately and using evidence to successfully convict them at trial. A nearly two-year analysis by The Wall Street Journal published in November 2016 found felony conviction rates had fallen since Mosby took office.

Mosby and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis have tried to work together on policies to fight the city’s surge in gun violence. However, they’ve butted heads at times, including this week when her office dropped more than three dozen cases involving three officers due to what she called “questionable activity” captured on body camera footage. Davis defended his officers at a press conference yesterday, while Mosby suggested one of their conduct displayed on the footage “undermines public trust and creates indefensible doubts in the mind of the general public, judges and jurors.”

Bates worked as a law clerk for Baltimore City Circuit Judge David Mitchell and as a prosecutor in the state’s attorney’s office before pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney, according to his law firm’s website.

He actually isn’t the first local attorney to announce a run against Mosby for 2018. Chad Curlett entered the primary early in January, becoming her first challenger. In an email to The Baltimore Sun, he cited recent increases in violent crime, falling conviction rates and “the revolving door of the criminal justice system” as his chief concerns.

The Democratic primary for the office of Baltimore City State’s Attorney is set for June 26, 2018.

Ethan McLeod
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