KERI L. BORZILLERI, Plaintiff-Appellant,
MARILYN J. MOSBY, in her official and personal capacities; STATE OF MARYLAND, Defendants-Appellees.
Argued: September 14, 2017
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Baltimore. J. Frederick Motz, Senior District
Kamya Grigsby, BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER LLP, Washington,
D.C., for Appellant.
Patrick Browning Hughes, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.
Y. Park, Washington, D.C., Nafees Syed, BOIES, SCHILLER &
FLEXNER LLP, New York, New York, for Appellant.
E. Frosh, Attorney General of Maryland, Julia Doyle
Bernhardt, Assistant Attorney General, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.
WILKINSON, TRAXLER, and AGEE, Circuit Judges.
WILKINSON, Circuit Judge:
case arises out of appellant Keri Borzilleri's suit
alleging that appellee Marilyn Mosby fired her for supporting
Mosby's political rival, thereby violating
Borzilleri's First Amendment rights. The district court
determined that, as an Assistant State's Attorney,
Borzilleri was a policymaker exempt from the First
Amendment's protection against patronage dismissals. We
affirm. To hold otherwise would undermine the public mandate
bestowed upon the victor of a hard-fought election and would
needlessly interfere with a state official's managerial
January 5, 2015, Marilyn Mosby took office as Baltimore City
State's Attorney, an elected position with authority over
more than one hundred prosecutors. Four days later, Mosby
fired Assistant State's Attorney Keri Borzilleri without
explanation. As an ASA for nine years, Borzilleri had made
charging decisions, negotiated plea deals, and tried serious
cases. Near the end of her tenure, she had also served as one
of the office's three "Community Prosecutors, "
tasked with prosecuting complex crimes and liaising with
local police and city residents. Borzilleri's performance
was, by her account, exemplary. She alleges-and for the
purposes of resolving this appeal, we assume-that the sole
motivation for Borzilleri's termination was her prior
support for Mosby's political opponent.
trouble began in 2014, when Borzilleri took sides in a
bruising Democratic primary battle for Baltimore City
State's Attorney. She supported Gregg Bernstein, the
incumbent, over Mosby, a former colleague. Although
Borzilleri had no official role in Bernstein's campaign
and never donated money to it, she attended Bernstein's
campaign events, placed a Bernstein sign in front of her
home, and hosted a gathering of approximately twenty
Bernstein supporters. Photos of the event appeared on
Facebook. According to Borzilleri, her once-cordial
relationship with Mosby quickly soured. Borzilleri alleged
that on two occasions after she began supporting Bernstein,
Mosby glared at her and declined to acknowledge her in
defeated Bernstein in the June 2014 primary and went on to
win the general election that November. Three days after
Mosby took office, a newly appointed political deputy asked
Borzilleri about Bernstein's campaign. She ...