police officer sidearmJust recently law enforcement in our tiny jurisdiction has come more visible than usual.  Obviously police officers are in the news every time a major criminal act in our community is investigated or a suspect is apprehended.   But this week the headlines went further, capturing a public meeting wherein citizens weighed in on potential changes to the St. Paul Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission.  This 20-year old commission reviews complaints against police and makes disciplinary recommendations to the chief. It has always consisted of two officers and five civilians, but several meeting participants expressed their point of view that officers don’t belong on this commission. This debate is all the more significant given the fact that St. Paul Police began wearing body cameras only last week.

Also significant was this week’s announcement from Ramsey County Attorney John Choi that criminal manslaughter charges were being brought against Falcon Heights police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile, which made national news. You can read Choi’s press conference transcript from his announcement and the complaint at the County Attorney’s website.

There is not much this blog can add to these events that isn’t already covered.  However, this is a good place to bring up some of the special resources that our library has regarding law as it pertains to police officers and police misconduct.  If this is something you are researching or plan to, we have some tools that might help:

  • Will Aitchison, The Rights of Law Enforcement Officers (7th Ed. 2015)
  • Michael Avery et al.  Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation (3d Ed. 2015)
  • Isidore Silver,  Police Civil Liability (1986- )

We also have plenty of criminal law materials that explore the constitutional parameters in which police officers do their jobs. Be aware that many of the police civil liability materials are library-use only, so set aside some time to visit our library!

 

Growing and Nurturing your Law Firm

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As the Law Librarian returns from vacation, it is amazing to behold the recent legal news in our community.  Last weekend we learned of the passing of local legal icon and former Ramsey District Judge Larry Cohen.  We also received news of the final breakthrough in the decades-long mystery of Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance.  To properly acknowledge these recent happenings, we want to recognize the significant public service career of the late Judge Cohen, who also served as the mayor of Saint Paul.  We also wish to extend our deepest condolences the Wetterling family as their long saga reaches its sad close.

As the drum continues to beat steadily that legal markets and law practices are changing, be aware of some new books from the ABA that address these changes.  These books might be helpful tools as you chart the future course of your law firm, and avoid the hazards along the way.  We also remind you of our 80th Anniversary celebration and free CLE coming up on Monday, September 26, 2016, so checking out one of these books will be easy if you plan to attend.

  •  The Lawyer’s Guide to Succession Planning: A Project Management Approach for Successful Law Firm Transitions and Exits by J.W. Olmstead. The purpose of this book is to provide guidance to all firms, but especially smaller ones. After examining the “silver tsunami” of senior attorneys headed for retirement in the near future, the book offers transition approaches and action plans for dealing with the inevitable departures. Case studies and sample agreements are included, as well as downloadable files of sample worksheets and agreements.
  • Building Rainmakers: An A to Z Guide to Business Development Training by D.K. Keller.  Business development is not a traditional legal skill, but nowadays it is a necessary one.  This book is essentially an encyclopedia of business development training tools for firm management, including tips and tools from interviews with business leaders and rainmakers of leading firms.
  • Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms (3d Ed.) by A.E. Davis and K.M. Lachter. Significantly updated from its 2007 edition, this book covers recent sea changes in law that relate to technology, the financial crisis, and the rise of non-lawyers. Just “staying out of trouble” in the professional sense now involves much more than avoiding traditional malpractice and ethical snags.  This revised book now includes special guidance for risk management and due diligence in light of these new forces.

 

 

Law Day 2016 – Miranda: More than Words

 

Leslie J. Rosenberg

Leslie J. Rosenberg
Minnesota Assistant
Appellate Defender

Once again National Law Day will soon be upon us. Sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA), this annual event highlights the role of law and justice in our society, while giving attention to the special role of courts in our democracy. Congress designated May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day in 1961. This year’s theme, which is Miranda: More than Words highlights the 50th anniversary of the well-known U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The theme explores Miranda rights as they traditionally apply to police interrogation, but also shines light on all the procedural protections afforded by the Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty.

Be sure to attend our own upcoming Law Day event, to be held on Wednesday, May 4 in conjunction with the Ramsey County Bar Association.  We will feature a talk by Leslie J. Rosenberg, “The Making of Justice – The Role of Miranda in the ‘Making a Murderer’ Series.” Ms. Rosenberg will explore the origin and meaning behind Miranda case law, and how it gets maneuvered by police and prosecutors. She will highlight the application of Miranda to juvenile defendants, and specifically to the teenaged Brenden Dassey that we all remember from  “Making a Murderer.” (This is a can’t-miss event if you enjoyed the Netflix documentary series.) Besides being an Assistant Appellate Defender with the Minnesota Public Defenders’ Office, Ms. Rosenbeg is also an expert in the field of international juvenile justice, and recently served as a volunteer public defender in China. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place Wednesday, May 4 in the Training Room of the First National Bank Building. The event will commence at 9:00 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:30. One standard CLE credit is available.  (Teleconference and on-demand available for $10.)

If juvenile justice or Miranda rights are of special interest to you, consider reading one of these books which we have in the library:

  • Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room by B. Feld (New York University Press 2013)
  • Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison by N. Bernstein (The New Press 2015)
  • The Privilege of Silence: Fifth Amendment Protections Against Self-Incrimination by P. Hynes Jr. and S. Salky (ABA 2nd)
 

CourtroomApparently it was a big deal last week when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas broke his decade-long silence on the bench and began ask counsel several questions during oral arguments. Maybe Thomas spoke up was because this particular case (involving 2nd Amendment gun rights) was a subject he is passionate about, or maybe he had previously been hiding in “Nino’s” shadow all these years (as the graph might suggest). In any event, this news event raises the subject of addressing the bench, encouraging judges to ask questions, and hopefully providing accurate and persuasive answers in response.

Indeed, lawyers should pray for a rainstorm of questions from the bench. A judge who has no questions might have already decided on the matter at hand (or not read your brief or memorandum). Probably nowhere should you hope for questions more than when you are presenting and arguing a motion. (After all, you are asking the court to diverge from its otherwise-planned path.) So anticipate those questions and be ready to offer brief-but-enlightening answers with which you can engage the judge in a stimulating informational discourse. To this end, we offer some helpful materials:

  • Motion Practice (6th Ed.) by D. Herr, et al. Its chapter 6.05 on oral argument specifically presents tips for answering the questions a judge is likely to ask.
  • A Checklist Approach to Successful Practice (CLE 2015) contains “8 Ways to Make the Most of Oral Argument,” an excellent three-page tip sheet for communicating successfully with the judge.
  • The end chapters of informal-but-informative McElhaney’s Trial Notebook (4th Ed.) for helpful lessons on set against story narratives on making your points and handling questions from the bench.
  •  Consider reading “[T]he Judge Looks Bored: How to Keep the Judge Interested.” Here, Hennepin District Judge Jay Quam offers his own tips to lawyers for successfully interacting with the judge. (Minnesota Bench and Bar, Dec. 2011)

You may be presenting your argument at the appellate level, which means multiple judges.  If so, consider “[T]he Word on Oral Arguments” by David Ziemer (Minnesota Lawyer, May 25, 2005).   Ziemer reminds you to be confident, considering that your case was taken because the court wants to hear more about it and possibly give it precedential significance. Extensive questions in the appellate setting mean that the judges have not only read your brief, but are considering policy ramifications of their possible decision options.  Ziemer also provides tools to help you focus the attention of the judges. (A recitation of multiple dry details will only have a tranquilizer effect on them.)

All of these suggestions are short and easy reads, so come by the Law Library to check them out.

 

Getting Schooled in Education Law

ClassroomWith area schools back in swing, legal professionals know that education and all of its related issues can pose a landmine of legal challenges. From issues that include school funding, security lockdowns, religious expression, and student disability matters, many areas of law are touched upon in a typical school day.   These legal areas can include, but are not limited to contracts, criminal, and constitutional law. Of course, if you are researching a legal issue related to education, you already know that much of education is under state and local control.  Your research will likely require consultation of the applicable Minnesota Statutes, as well as the  Minnesota Administrative Rules for the Minnesota Department of Education.   You might also want to consult the policy manuals of your local school board and minutes of their meetings.   In addition, the State Law Library also provides a handy list of resources specific to education law. We also have local CLE binders as on the subject, as well as some other unique print materials:

  • Special Education and the Law: A Guide for Practitioners (Corwin, 3rd Ed.) by A. Osborne et al. Special education is an area of law impacted by significant court decisions and changing legal developments.  This book can provide a road map to meeting today’s special education requirements. Helpful analysis in specific areas such as IDEA, discipline, parents and students rights, and preventive suggestions on avoiding litigation.  More information is available from the publisher.
  • 2015 Deskbook Encyclopedia of American School Law (Center for Education & Employment Law). Its publisher describes this book  as “a one-stop reference guide that helps you learn how courts are deciding school cases, what the legal issues are and how your colleagues across the country are faring.”  Case summaries are provided in areas covering employment practices, school operations, academic practices, students with disabilities and  more.  This resource is reprinted annually for the most up-to-date coverage.
  • The Principal’s Quick-Reference Guide to School Law: Reducing Liability, Litigation, and Other Potential Legal (Corwin, 3rd Ed.) R. Hachiya et alThis book presents information that shows school principals how to address issues including:  student use of technology, zero-tolerance discipline policies, and school safety and violence prevention.  It also includes useful insights for collaboration with other school personnel for addressing these issues.
  •  Education Law: An Essential Guide for Attorneys, Teachers, Administrators, Parents, and Students (Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, Inc. 2nd Ed.) by  M. Gerstein & L. Gerstein.  This substantial treatise understands how the incidents that arise in school touch on the many areas of law mentioned previously. How do these broad legal practice areas intersect with state and local laws? This broad treatise can be your road map to putting the details of your particular education issue into the right legal framework for your continued research.

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  If people don’t make an automatic connection between mental illness and law, perhaps they should.  A study by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) from 2006 showed that 64% of local jail inmates, 56% of state prisoners and 45% of federal prisoners had symptoms of serious mental illnesses. According to NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness), about 25% of the men and 65% of the women in Minnesota state prisons receive treatment for mental illnesses.  These numbers would indicate that jails and prisons have become the default landing place for those with mental illnesses.  This is further demonstrated by this state-by-state survey from the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Ideally, people with mental illnesses get the help they need outside of the court system, but too often this is not the case.  The end result is that people frequently wind up in the criminal justice system directly or indirectly as a result of untreated (or inadequately treated) mental illness.  It is fortunate that our justice system is becoming more aware of this reality, and that these cases need more than traditional criminal justice and penal tools.  Ramsey County’s Mental Health Court Program (RCMHC) is one of 3 mental health courts in the state of Minnesota, and was created so that the 2nd Judicial District could deliver “more specialized and individualized” justice to mentally ill criminal defendants.   For an inside look, see this recent William Mitchell Law Review article written by Ramsey District Judge John Guthmann about the RCMHC and mental health courts in general.

Are you an attorney working with a mentally ill client and need to know how best to advocate with their special needs in mind?  There are some great resources online, especially from NAMI Minnesota.  These include ”Advocating for People with Mental Illnesses in the Criminal Justice System”  and “Juvenile Justice: Advocating for a Child with a Mental Illness.”  Here in the law library we now have the Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal (Lexis 2nd Ed.) treatise set by Michael Perlin.  We also have the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 for your convenience, as well as books that address the legal uses and interpretations of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).  Finally, you might find this simple issue spotting list helpful.

 

We know that modern habeas corpus law has its roots in the historical Magna Carta, but what is the role of habeas corpus in modern law? Who may petition for such a writ? What tools are available for seeking this writ and where are can they be found?  The writ of habeas corpus is clearly specified in both the U.S. Constitution (Article I Section 9) and the Minnesota State Constitution (Article I, Section 7). Minnesota statutory law specifically outlines the provisions for a writ of habeas corpus under M.S.A. §589. Basically speaking, “[A] person imprisoned or otherwise restrained of liberty, except persons committed or detained by virtue of the final judgment of a competent tribunal of civil or criminal jurisdiction, or by virtue of an execution issued upon the judgment, may apply for a writ of habeas corpus to obtain relief from imprisonment or restraint.”  Conveniently, M.S.A. §589.05 even provides form language for seeking state habeas corpus relief.

Habeas corpus is probably more commonly  understood in its federal application, as a remedy for  a person in custody pursuant to a state court  judgment to petition the federal courts for relief, and who has exhausted all of their state remedies. This application of habeas corpus as a legal remedy provided under 28 U.S. Code §2254, plus its historical significance, is described in detail by the U.S. Supreme Court  in the case of Fay v. Noia 372 U.S. 391 (1963).  Forms to file for the different federal writs of habeas corpus (including §2254) are available at the website of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota.  This page offers two different habeas corpus petition packets (based on different sections of  U.S. Code), so one should carefully read the enclosed instructions prior to making their final selection.   If you are an attorney embarking on a habeas corpus filing, the library has some additional resources that might help.  April 27 2015 001

  • Allan Ellis’s Federal Prison Guidebook (James Publishing 2015) by Alan Ellis et al. This is a book of programs and policies for 105 prisons, including educational, vocational, and apprenticeship opportunities, UNICOR, counseling and rehabilitation services, fitness and recreation facilities, religious services, telephone policy, accommodations in surrounding area, and much more.  There is an entire chapter providing guidelines for preparing habeas corpus motions.
  •  Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure (LexisNexis 6th Ed. 2011) by Randy Hertz and James S. Liebman  This is an authoritative and practical 2-volume treatise with practical advice and expert analysis from practitioners and subject matter experts.  The treatise and the accompanying supplement includes the latest habeas corpus case law as well as important statutory changes.

Of course, don’t miss our Law Day event this Thursday (April 30) which will feature a special talk on habeas corpus.

 

 

shopping[1]Be it judges or attorneys, there is nothing unusual nowadays about seeing women serve key roles in Minnesota’s modern justice system.  After all, Minnesota even boasted the first state Supreme Court bench that had a majority of women.   Yet despite its Midwestern-progressive vibe, Minnesota has had something of a reputation in the past for dragging its feet where gender equality is concerned.  Our judge portrait collection visibly demonstrates this fact.  Another case in point- Coya Knutson was elected to represent her Minnesota district in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1954, where she served two terms.  From that point on, Minnesota never again elected a woman to Congress until the 2000 election of Betty McCollum.

With a forward by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement (Minnesota Historical Society Press) covers not only the Coya Knutson story, but other eye-opening details regarding the  sometimes-slow progress of women in Minnesota law and politics.  For instance, the book speaks of a Gender Bias Task Force  of the late 1980s which discovered that judges and male attorneys often assumed that women attorneys were assistants or secretaries, made comments about their sexuality, and addressed them as “dearie,” “ma’am” or “little lady.”

This book is also treasure for anyone who simply enjoys Minnesota history, particularly the life of the late justice Rosalie Wahl.

 

5091914[1]No lawyer can have an answer prepared for every zinger of a question that pops up when a client calls.  Zingers like:  “[M}y ex is stealing money from my son’s bank account,” or “my grandmother’s life savings were just wiped out by her investor-boyfriend,” or even “the cops just showed up at my home with a search warrant.”  These examples show why it’s critical to be able to find a quick a summary and cite for the authoritative case or controlling statute.   That’s where the new edition of this handy tool from Minnesota Continuing Legal Education comes in.  Answers to these and other questions are supported by references, commentary, and recommended readings.   Also provided is a chapter on the delicate ethics of answering legal questions at cocktail parties. (Hint: It may be better to excuse yourself and go get another drink instead.)

With Minnesota-specific answers provided by and for local practitioners, this book can be your lifeline or your entry point.   This reference tool cannot be checked out, but if a client just threw a surprise zinger at you while you are at the Court House, swing up to the library to read the quickest answer available.   Of course, this legal 9-1-1 manual can provide helpful information to lay people as well.

 

Legal Research in International Law

CAP INTL SERIESYou may not need to research international law on an everyday basis in your law practice, but when it comes up you will appreciate a logical starting point.  That is where International Law Legal Research (Carolina Press) comes in.  This is a “concise yet comprehensive” tool meant to be accessible for beginners and more experienced researchers alike, with each type of search tool and search strategy covered in detail with explanations to provide background comprehension.  This book gives you an idea of how non-concise the area of international law is, and lets you chart your research course with as few obstacles as possible. Read more about this book here. If you think you might be interested, this book is available in the Law Library.

Mary Ann E. Archer, retired Associate Director of the Warren E. Burger Law Library at William Mitchell College of Law, is co-author of this book.