State’s Attorney Candidate Hasn’t Lived in Baltimore Long Enough to Run, Opponent Argues

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Chad Curlett (left) and Ivan Bates. Photos via Levin & Curlett, LLC and WBAL-TV.

One of three Democrats running for Baltimore City state’s attorney in 2018 has sued to disqualify his opponent, arguing he doesn’t meet the state’s residency requirement to run for the office.

According to local attorney Chad Curlett, who announced his run for state’s attorney in January, his rival Ivan Bates is ineligible because he’s only maintained a domicile, or permanent home, in the city limits since early 2017. In a Baltimore Sun story that ran March 30, Bates said he’d moved back into the city limits earlier this year.

Maryland law requires a state’s attorney in any jurisdiction to have lived there for at least two years before running for office. To run for state’s attorney in 2018, a primary candidate must have been living in the city since June 26, 2016.

“Crediting the accuracy of the reporting, and Bates’ own admission, it appears that Bates did not reside in Baltimore immediately prior to 2017,” Curlett’s lawsuit argues. It asks the court to resolve the matter by declaring Bates ineligible.

State tax records show Bates owns homes in Locust Point and Reservoir Hill, as well as in Laurel out in Howard County. He purchased his Locust Point home in January 2016, the Laurel one in October 2012 and the Reservoir Hill one in September 1997. Tax records list the Locust Point home as his primary residence.

Bates asked the court to dismiss Curlett’s motion last Thursday, arguing he isn’t yet an official candidate because he hasn’t filed a certificate of candidacy. Curlett opposed the motion to dismiss yesterday, and has now requested that the court expedite its judgment by deciding within a week.

The certificate of candidacy must be filed by Feb. 27, 2018, according to a State Board of Elections calendar.

In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Curlett said “it’s a significant issue because people are busy campaigning and raising money, and the electorate is beginning to look to see who the viable candidates are.”

Bates could theoretically wait until late February to file as an official candidate. Curlett’s lawsuit, however, asks the court to determine his eligibility now.

“Even if you accept that they won’t resolve this until the certificate of candidacy is filed, it will be resolved eventually,” he said.

David Kosak, manager of Bates’ recently announced campaign, asserted in a statement that the lawsuit lacks merit.

“Ivan Bates meets the requirements to run for Baltimore City State’s Attorney,” Kosak’s statement said. “He is focused on talking with city residents who are deeply concerned about record levels of crime because the State’s Attorney’s Office is in disarray. Ivan is motivated by the excitement and energy he is receiving from voters across the city.”

Bates announced his run for office last month, citing the city’s ballooning violent crime problem. “We are losing our city to crime. We are constantly in a state of mourning,” he said, per ABC2.

A well-known defense attorney around Baltimore, Bates has represented numerous high-profile clients, including Sgt. Alicia White, one of six officers charged in the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. Prosecutors dropped her charges after three of her fellow officers were acquitted.

Also running against Curlett and Bates is Thiru Vignarajah, a former Maryland deputy attorney general who’s now a private attorney with powerhouse firm DLA Piper. He’s presently representing the state in the post-conviction appeal of Adnan Syed, the subject of the “Serial” podcast who’s being given a new trial.

Marilyn Mosby, the incumbent city state’s attorney, hasn’t revealed whether she will be running for re-election next year.

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