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Profile: Ivan Bates for Baltimore City States Attorney

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 13:27:29-04

His Plan if he was State's Attorney:

  • Smart Prosecution
    • Recruit new and experienced prosecutors
    • Aggressively prosecute violent crimes to the fullest extent of the law
    • Seek alternative measures for nonviolent offenses
    • More thoughtful, competent, and strategic prosecution that holds more people accountable.
  • Ending Mass Incarceration
    • Wants a culture of justice and equality in the State's Attorney's Office
    • Implement discrimination and bias training
    • Review data on racial discrimination in charging and sentencing
    • Require prosecutors to set equitable bong amounts and probation conditions
    • Implement job training and re-entry programs
  • Restore Confidence:
    • Establishing community partnerships through a 'Community Prosecution' model
      • Assigning prosecutors to each District in the city with a focus on the relevant crimes to the district
      • Community and prosecutors get to know each other
  • Juvenile Justice
    • Revamp the Juvenile State’s Attorney’s Office into an elite division of trial lawyers who are experienced, committed to the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, and the safety of the public.
    • Stop treating the Juvenile Division as a temporary training ground for prosecutors who are not versed or interested in juvenile causes. Make it a permanent assignment and recruit attorneys who have a passion for juvenile causes.
    • Develop partnerships and foster relationships with other elected officials in order to reduce youth violence
    • Identify and target grant programs aimed at reducing youth violence
    • Strengthen relationship with Baltimore City Health Department Office of Youth Violence Prevention/ Baltimore City Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice/ Baltimore Schools in order to examine youth violence and develop a comprehensive plan of prevention
    • Hold DJS accountable and ensure that cases are charged appropriately. Supervisor approval for any case DJS requests not to charge if the case involves victims, weapons, and/or injury is alleged to have occurred
    • Create specialized units of juvenile prosecutors who will handle complex crimes and investigations.

Ivan Bates Questionnaire:

 

BACKGROUND: 

I began my legal career working for the NAACP Legal Defense protecting civil rights. I soon became a law clerk to Judge David Mitchell in 1995 and in 1996, I was hired by Patricia Jessmy to become an Assistant State’s Attorney. After working in the public sector, I moved to the private sector and worked for Schulman, Treem from 2002 to 2006. In 2006 is when I started my law firm, Bates and Garcia.

EDUCATION:

My father was in the military, so as a kid I went to school in New Mexico, Virginia, and even Germany. After high school, I enlisted into United States Army. After my honorable discharge, I graduated cum laude from Howard University in 1992 and received my law degree from William & Mary in Virginia in 1995.

RESIDENCY:

Rampart Mews, Baltimore

1 - What are your biggest priorities for the State’s Attorney’s Office and how will you go about achieving them? Why are you the best candidate for this office?

My biggest priorities for the State's Attorney's Office are implementing smart prosecution, ending mass incarceration, restoring confidence, building resiliency and reforming juvenile justice. Reaching each of these policy goals will require strategic and specific courses of action. Smart prosecution does not mean “tough” prosecution – that is overcharging and over-sentencing offenders. It means thoughtful, competent, strategic prosecution that holds those who are threats to the safety and security of the city accountable, dropping insufficient cases, ending the revolving door to prison, and diverting nonviolent offenders from more serious crime. Ending mass incarceration will be achieved through prioritizing alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenses by seeking sentences of community service, training programs, house arrest, mental health services and drug treatment when appropriate and also, giving second chances to recently released individuals through the help of job training programs.  

The plan to restore confidence in the City State’s Attorney’s Office will focus on first establishing community partnerships through a “Community Prosecution” model. This initiative will foster a collaborative relationship between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the community by assigning prosecutors to each District in the city with a focus on the relevant crimes to that District. Through regular meetings and programming, residents will come to know and trust their prosecutors and prosecutors will become familiar and invested in the communities they serve. This model will also look to the community to advise prosecutors on their concerns, and take an active lead in fighting crime in their neighborhoods. Building resiliency in the community relies on community advocates and members committed to a future where everyone thrives. I will partner with local activists and organizations and follow their lead in implementing programs that will both reduce violence and crime, and create opportunities for educational and economic growth. And lastly, I plan to revamp the juvenile division within the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and make it into an elite division of trial lawyers who are experienced and committed to the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and the safety of the public. I believe that I am the best candidate for this job because I have 23 years of experience and I have been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. I have had the distinct opportunity to see the courtroom from both sides -- which means I can be effective because I see the big picture. 

2 - Baltimore’s violent crime rate has spiked in the years since Freddie Gray’s death and the subsequent Baltimore Uprising. Though statistics have been trending down somewhat this year, what role does the State’s Attorney’s Office play in curbing such violence, and what specific plans would you implement to combat the rise in crime?

Mrs. Mosby’s failure to deliver a single conviction in the killing of Freddie Gray is symbolic of the ineffectiveness of her office. The State's Attorney's Office has to win convictions against violent offenders to be effective. In order to combat the rise in crime and reduce homicides in Baltimore City, my team will evaluate every case involving a violent offender. I will select the ten best trial lawyers to form a division dedicated to prosecuting violent offenders. Once we have won the cases in trials and have held the violent offenders accountable, we will then be able to send a message loud and clear that the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office will hold violent offenders accountable. We then can focus on community prosecution – to collaboratively work with the police and community to make a safer Baltimore. We can see from past experience that when violent offenders are not being held accountable, they return to the community and commit violent crimes again -- resulting in a spike in crime. 

3 - There has been much turnover in the State’s Attorney’s office since the last election in 2014. Is this just business as usual, or a concern needing to be addressed? If so, how would you attempt to retain experienced prosecutors, or do you have a different plan to recruit and maintain top talent in the office?

Whenever you see an exodus of experienced professionals leaving, that presents a concern. There is a long list of experienced prosecutors who have left the State’s Attorney’s Office under the current administration, a total of 105 prosecutors. And a number of those have expressed an interest in coming back -- but only under my leadership. In addition, a number of attorneys at the state and federal level have expressed an interest in working with me as well. The State’s Attorney’s Office under my leadership will be a office where prosecutors will have discretion in handling their cases and will have some of the top lawyers and judges to host training sessions. It will be an office where the culture will be one of support, creativity, and teamwork. It will be up to me to embolden every prosecutor to be smart on crime.   

4 - Baltimore has a long history of strained relationships between community and police, but that has potentially reached new lows with the current consent decree and the fall out over the Gun Trace Task Force prosecutions. 

-How can the State’s Attorney’s Office aid in repairing that relationship?

-How should the State’s Attorney’s Office aid in sussing out potential corruption, holding police accountable and not letting such incidents affect prosecutions?

My plan to restore confidence in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office will focus on first establishing community partnerships through a “Community Prosecution” model. This initiative will foster a collaborative relationship between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the community by assigning prosecutors to each District in the city with a focus on the relevant crimes to that District. Through regular meetings and programming, residents will come to know and trust their prosecutors and prosecutors will become familiar and invested in the communities. This model will also look to the community to advise prosecutors on their concerns, and take an active lead in fighting crime in neighborhoods.

While most police officers and prosecutors execute the duties of their office with professionalism, I will hold corrupt and criminal police officers and prosecutors accountable under the law, and review for dismissal charges brought by such officials. I will also review for dismissal charges brought under discriminatory policies such as stop and frisk. 

I will raise the ethical bar and have a zero tolerance policy for prosecutors who violate the rights of defendants, such as withholding exculpatory evidence. As a criminal defense attorney who has experienced unethical behavior of prosecutors against clients, I pledge to honor the rights of defendants by enacting a truly file open discovery policy. At the same time, I will make sure that prosecutors are highly trained and effective in securing convictions and treat victims with respect. I believe in transparency, due process, and that all charged are innocent until proven guilty.

At the same time, I will ensure that prosecutors are highly trained and effective at securing convictions of violent offenders to make our communities safe again while always treating victims with respect and dignity.  

5 - How best can the residents of Baltimore evaluate the successes or failures of the State’s Attorney’s Office, and what can the office do to increase accountability and transparency so citizens can understand and effectively judge the work of city prosecutors? 

Under our current state’s attorney, the murder rate has exceeded 300 every year that she has been in office. During the last election year, Mrs. Mosby said that 211 murders was too many. She should be held to the same standard as the previous state's attorney. 

In addition, 105 experienced prosecutors have left that office. That means that they’re not winning the cases and they’re going to have more pleas on cases that should possibly go to trial, or they’ll give pleas to cases that should have been dismissed and never should have been prosecuted. They’ve lost 800 years of experience. There were 175 wins in trials for the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office and 237 losses. That means that out of every 10 cases that go to trial, the City State's Attorney's Office only wins four -- meaning six violent offenders are sent back on the street. The bottom line is the City State's Attorney's Office has to win trials to keep Baltimore safe. In order to win trials, they have to have retain experienced prosecutors. Of the 105 that have left, a number of them want to return because it was a job that they loved and they will only return to work with me. 

It's the experience that makes the difference. I have 23 years of experience in the courtroom. Having been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I see the big picture and understand the court system from both sides. The last time we saw the murder rate dip below 200 was when the Baltimore City State's Attorney had a resume' similar to mine -- he was a prosecutor and a defense attorney. 

6 - The recent death of Officer Amy Caprio has brought increased scrutiny on the state’s juvenile justice system. Acknowledging that the care of juvenile suspects is the purview of the Department of Juvenile Services, what responsibility does the State’s Attorney’s Office have in ensuring both a fair judicial process for juvenile suspects and the safety of the community at large? How could this system be improved?

The recent death of Officer Amy Caprio was a tragic situation that could have been avoided. I believe that several improvements can be made to the juvenile justice system however, the focus must be both on rehabilitation and public safety. First, the juvenile division of the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office must stop operating as a training ground for prosecutors who are not well versed or even interested in juvenile causes. Secondly, the juvenile division in the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office must be revamped and transformed into an elite division of trial lawyers who are experienced and committed to the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders while prioritizing public safety. It should recruit attorneys who have a passion for juvenile causes and be a permanent assignment. Lastly, specialized units of juvenile prosecutors should be created to handle complex crimes and investigations. In addition, we must partner with youth centered programs to administer wrap around services when necessary. 

Click here to go to Ivan Bates' campaign website