What to Know about the Derek Chauvin Trial

Gavel

This informational post contains links to resources relating to the Derek Chauvin Trial.

Links to all the Court documents relating to the Derek Chauvin trial.  This page will link to trial information for the other defendants (see section for related cases). 

Links to a live feed of the trial can be found on Court TV, as well as on various news pages, such as MSBNC, CBS Minnesota, YouTube, and many other sites.

The City of Minneapolis has a page that lists street closures, trial updates, and a link to report suspicious activity. 

Links to the statutes for the charges:

Link to Court’s profile of the judge for this case, Judge Peter A. Cahill.

Brief description of the judge, defendants, and attorneys involved with the case, article from Minnesota Public Radio.

The Court created a Media Guidance document that provides information for working reporters and court personnel to address and/or resolve logistical questions regarding media coverage of the trial.

You can find updates about other cases occurring in Hennepin County during the trial. 

During the trial, the Hennepin County Law Library will continue to provide reference services to patrons by phone (612-348-2903) and email (law.library@hennepin.us).  You are also welcome to visit, call, or email, the Ramsey County Law Library for help.

 

This photo of the U.S. Supreme Court was taken by Thomas Hawk in 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court.

In the recent landmark decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that existing civil rights law protects gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination.  In short, an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.

Bostock, along with Altitude Express, Inc., et al. v. Zarda et al., as Co-Independent Executors of the Estate of Zarda, and R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al., was brought before the Supreme Court because of a split in the Courts of Appeal.  The Seventh and Second Circuits held that Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Moreover, the Sixth Circuit agreed with the EEOC that Title VII protections also applied to transgender persons, too.  On the other hand, the Appellate Court in Bostock followed precedent set by an earlier case in the Eleventh Circuit that held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not protected under Title VII.  The three cases were consolidated and heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in the fall of 2019.  The opinion, which was delivered on Monday, June 15, 2020, was authored by Justice Gorsuch, and joined with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.  Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, filed a dissenting opinion, as did Justice Kavanaugh.

The opinion, though quite long, states the conclusion concisely at the start:

Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender.  The answer is clear.  An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.  Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

If you want to read more about Title VII actions, the Ramsey County Law Library has a substantive employment law collection with several treatises focusing discrimination.  Representing Plaintiffs in Title VII Actions, Fifth Edition, by Robert E. McKnight, is a one-volume loose-leaf title that covers all aspects of litigating a Title VII case.  This title covers prohibited practices, such as disparate treatments, harassment, retaliation, failure to provide reasonable accommodations, and more.  It proceeds to explain pre-litigation charge filing, the litigation process, and remedies.

Another title that would be of interest is Employee Dismissal Law and Practice, Seventh Edition, by Hank Perritt, Jr.   This two-volume set covers these topics:  Employment at will, statutory protection against discrimination based on characteristic, discrimination based on conduct, procedural issues for statutory discrimination, downsizing, arbitration, contract theories, tort theories, special problems of public employment, proof and procedure, employer personnel problems, and wrongful dismissal legislation.  This title has an extensive look at the appellate decision in Zarda (mentioned above) as well Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998), which held that sexual harassment in the workplace between members of the same sex is prohibited under Title VII.  You can guarantee that both of titles will be updated soon to reflect the decision in Bostock!

In support of Pride Month, the Law Library is displaying a few titles that discuss and explain LGBT rights and the law.  We are expecting a few new books to come in soon, including a new book due in at the end of June titled Law and the Gay Rights Story: The Long Search for Equal Justice in a Divided Democracy.  We hope to see you in the Law Library soon.  Happy Pride Month!

 

Keeping Up with Immigration Law

immigration

 

Many attorneys are aware of the important immigration case Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (559 U.S. 356, 2010) which decided that a criminal defense attorney must advise a noncitizen client about deportation risks should the client negotiate a guilty plea.  The consequences of criminal activity are many and complex.  The book Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity: A Guide to Representing Foreign-Born Defendants by Mary Kramer provides detailed analysis and resources for assisting noncitizens charged with crimes.  The book regularly references two legal sources: The Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC Chapter 12) and the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 8).  Kramer details removal, detention, and deportability circumstances; she also discusses how to fashion a plea to avoid adverse consequences, including visa options for cooperating witnesses.  The section on immigration defense describes waivers and other available relief.

The Waivers Book: Advanced Issues in Immigration Law Practice provides attorneys with exceptions to the rules regarding inadmissibility and removability.  It introduces waivers—from A to Z—and includes waivers for refugees and asylees, and waivers related to unlawful presence.

These two books, as well as the following immigration titles Asylum Primer (2015), Business Immigration: Law & Practice (2017), and Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court (2017), were recently added to the law library collection.

 

Happy Fathers’ Day From the U.S. Supreme Court

father and childThe U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a federal immigration law that favors mothers over fathers in determining the citizenship of a child.  The law in question, 8 U.S.C.§ 1409, created an exception which automatically granted citizenship to the child of an unwed mother if said mother resided in the U.S. for at least a year. In contrast, 8 U.S.C. §1401 requires the unwed father of a child to live in the U.S. for 5 years for the child to be granted U.S. citizenship. As Justice Ginsburg wrote for the Court, this difference violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law. (She was joined by justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Chief Justice Roberts, with Justices Thomas and Alito filing a separate concurring opinion.)

You can read the entire opinion in the case of Sessions v. Morales-Santana, wherein Luis Ramón Morales-Santana was born abroad to unwed parents. His mother was from the Dominican Republic and his father was a U.S. citizen who had previously worked on a construction project there.  Morales-Santana’s father fell 20 days short of the U.S. residency requirement for Morales-Santana to receive automatic citizenship at birth. Morales-Santana later came to the U.S. with his parents as a permanent resident, but the government sought to deport him in 2000 after he was convicted of several felonies. Morales-Santana challenged the citizenship law as unconstitutional sex discrimination, and Supreme Court agreed: The child of an unwed American mother cannot be granted automatic citizenship more quickly than the child of an unwed American father.

This post might just as appropriately be named “[U]nhappy Mothers’ Day from the U.S. Supreme Court.” The Court’s recent decision is not a boost to fatherhood per se, but more specifically one to gender equality.  As this article explains, the Court’s temporary fix was to strike down the special exception law for mothers, since it was not at liberty to establish the “exception to the rule.”  Congress may opt to resolve this unconstitutionality in a way that is unfavorable for those in circumstances like Morales-Santana’s.  And since the Court is only requiring that the corrected law treat mothers and fathers equally, resolution might mean extending this citizen-residency requirement for mothers, shortening it for fathers, or doing away with it completely.  You might recall the old 1971 case of Palmer v. Thompson, wherein the Supreme Court held that closing public swimming pools altogether was a constitutionally-acceptable alternative to racially segregating them.  The result was a long, hot summer for all.

 

Legislative Chapter 184 from 1949You might have missed it, but county law libraries made a surprise appearance in the Minnesota legislative session this spring.  You can read the original Senate File 1113 here, which would have allowed for the diversion of county law library funds for construction of a courthouse.  This legislation passed both the Senate and the House, but was vetoed by Governor Dayton.  But bills  concerning county law libraries could always come up again at the capitol.

Without examining now-vetoed bill, this occurrence presents an opportunity to consider some history behind county law libraries in Minnesota. Their modern incarnation formally came into existence with what became Minnesota Statute §134A.  You can read in the 1949 Session Laws wherein the Legislature laid out the specifics for the establishment, operation, and function of county law libraries.  This original text reveals that amazingly little has changed to the county law library statute over the years, such as which sectors must be represented on governing boards, how funding is to be provided, and who must be allowed to use the libraries.  Keep in mind that this was all back in 1949, predating modern “access to justice” efforts.  Of course, what might have been casually called a “county law library” existed in Minnesota prior to this statute, often growing from local bar association libraries.  (This was how the Hennepin County Law Library got its start way back in 1883.)  But the original statute overwhelmingly set the standards for our modern county law libraries.

Today you can find county law libraries throughout the state, and this brochure from the Minnesota Coalition of County Law Libraries (MCCLL) lists those which offer professional staff to assist users.  But history-wise, its not easy to determine when Minnesota’s various county law libraries come to be.  Public law libraries existed in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth back in 1955, as evidenced in this article in the Law Library Journal about the founding of the Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL).  Since this sort of historical information can be elusive, we would like to know more about the history of your county law library (including this library).  If you have any such  inside knowledge, please share it with us.  And- if you have found the services and resources of your county law library helpful, by all means tell your legislator!

 

PencilsIt was big news earlier this year when Harvard Law School announced that it would no longer require applicants to submit LSAT scores, but would also accept GRE scores as well. The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) has long been a mainstay of law school applications alongside the undergraduate transcript. In acknowledging that many students already take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam), Harvard’s position is that accepting the GRE  scores reduces the financial burden on applicants who would otherwise be required to prepare and pay for an additional test would be alleviated.   It is too early to know whether or not other schools might follow this example, for the LSAT is still mandated by the bulk of US law schools.

An interesting history of the LSAT can be found here.  Obviously there was once a time when even law school itself unnecessary for a successful career in law. (See this prime example!)  Even after law school became standard, greater social stratifications before World War II managed to keep applicants to a minimum,  with less need to evaluate them against each other.  But the war and the GI bill made educational dreams much more achievable for many, so the selection process had to be sharpened. Schools also wanted a tool to address to the wide variation in college records of their applicants.  This led to administration of the first LSAT in 1948.

The Harvard move now begs the question of how useful is the LSAT is for modern purposes.  Does it serve to broaden the applicant pool or constrict it?   The underlying rationale for the use of the LSAT is to avoid the biases that come with more arbitrary methods of selection, and yet the biggest criticism against the LSAT is that it is likewise biased.  There is also assertion that LSAT scores do not accurately predict a law student’s grades.   And even though the test costs $180, preparatory classes to maximize one’s score can easily reach into the thousands.  Yet opponents of the Harvard decision assert that law school is already is seen as a default choice by undergraduates uncertain of their next career-building step.  Thus, the LSAT presents a purposeful obstacle, requiring the potential student to consider carefully if law school is a worthwhile investment of their time and money.

 

 

 

Our Law Day Event is Coming Up – Save the Date!

Law Day 2017 - The 14th Amendment - Transforming American Democracy

Be aware that our annual Law Day CLE event is coming up, which you will want to attend.  The theme of this year’s ABA-inspired event is The Fourteenth Amendment – Transforming American Democracy.”  Our event, held in partnership with the Ramsey County Bar Association, will be held at 3:00 PM on Thursday, May 4 in the Ramsey County Court House.  We are proud to have Minneapolis attorney Donald M. Lewis as our speaker for this event!  He will be sharing his knowledge and experience with us in his presentation “Equal Protection of the Laws: The Journey from Jim Crow to Gay Marriage.” His presentation will consider the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equality and a “top ten” review of such U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  It will also consider the shortcomings of those decisions in improving social, economic and political outcomes. Historic applications of the clause in Minnesota cases will also be noted.  This presentation is free to attend and open to the public.  (Read here for more details about attorney CLE fees for this program.)

For a little background, the Fourteenth Amendment contains the Citizenship Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, The Due Process Clause, the Enforcement Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause.   One of the three Reconstruction Amendments, its first section was drafted by Representative John Bingham of Ohio.  After its passage through Congress, President Johnson made a speech stating that submission of this groundbreaking amendment to the states for ratification was “purely ministerial.”  He seemingly sought to reassure Americans and their state legislatures that they were under no pressure from him to act on the amendment.  Enough states did act however, and it was ratified on July 9, 1868.  Nearly 150 years later, the amendment has become one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Roe v. Wade (1973), Bush v. Gore (2000), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).   Check out this fascinating timeline from the ABA website detailing the events leading up to the ratification of Fourteenth Amendment and its subsequent “transformation on American democracy.”

 

Police officer writes traffic citationWe are proud of our local involvement with local criminal expungement resources, but expungement is not the last word in “second chances.” For instance, you may have recently watched HBO’s Rock and a Hard Place, a documentary about Miami-Dade County offenders facing long prison sentences who get the chance to participate in a 16-week bootcamp-style regimen instead.  Each of the cadets on this show has been given a choice by their judge: incarceration or rehabilitation. From crew-cuts to pushups, this correction program is modeled on a tough, military-style code of discipline and order, which later includes anger-management instruction and vocational skills training. Creator Dwayne Johnson based this documentary on his own run-ins with the law as a youth.  See this excellent review of the show.

We are sometimes asked if Minnesota has such a boot camp-inspired penal model, and he answer is yes! Minnesota’s Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) provides a similar military-style boot camp experience for offenders, which can potentially shave years from total time to be served.  Unlike the Miami model, the state Commissioner of Corrections selects these offenders, not all of which are eligible.   A 2006 evaluation showed Minnesota’ CIP to reduce an offender’s chance of reoffending with a new crime by 35%, and also to have reduced costs by over $18 million.

A similar but simpler “second chance” program was featured in last week’s news, this one meant for those with suspended drivers licenses due to unpaid tickets. In these cases, the offenders cannot afford to pay their traffic tickets, which leads to revocation or suspension of licenses. Faced with the choice of not being able to get to work or driving illegally in order to put food on the table, many offenders predictably choose the latter.  This Driver Diversion Pilot Program allows offenders to take special driving classes and schedule a payoff for their fines. In return they get their drivers license and insurance reinstated. This pilot program was launched by the legislature for selected cities in 2008, and there is currently a movement to get this program statewide and permanent. The hope is to keep a single traffic infraction from being the factor that ultimately pulls a person down to the point that they no longer have a job and now have a court record to hold them back. This kind of downward spiral is a significant problem, and was considered a major source of the tension behind the Ferguson riots.

 

DoorwayAnyone familiar with our work knows that we promote local criminal expungement resources. We host the Second Judicial District’s criminal expungement forms clinic and also direct people to VLN’s expungement seminars held throughout the community. By sealing eligible criminal records, expungement allows people get jobs or other opportunities that they couldn’t otherwise.

That is why we took interest in the decision handed down last week by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  In the case of S.A.M.  v. State of Minnesota, the petitioner  plead guilty to second-degree burglary back in 2003, and this felony conviction was deemed a misdemeanor for sentencing under Minn. Stat §609.13.  Petitioner was released from probation less than three years later, having completed all court-ordered conditions.  He petitioned for expungement of this offense in 2015, almost immediately after Minnesota’s expungement law was reformed. (To the casual observer, S.A.M. appeared to be the ideal expungement candidate:  With no other criminal history since the burglary, he had since gotten his bachelors degree, purchased a home, stopped drinking, stepped up to raise his child, and had long ceased contact with his co-burglars.) But the district court denied his petition, stating that he was ineligible under Minn. Stat. §609A.02, since he had not technically been “convicted” of a misdemeanor, and could not apply for expungement under subd. 3(a)(3) of the statute.  (Burglary is not on the list of expungible felonies, so S.A.M. could not petition under subd3(a)(5).)  The Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Minnesota Supreme Court analyzed the expungement statute and Minn. Stat §609.13.  Writing for a tight 4-3 majority, Justice Anderson concluded that the expungement statute and its “was convicted” language requires a court to look at a petititioner’s status at the time he “was convicted.”  S.A.M. was thus not entitled to seek expungement through the misdemeanor option.  It also held that the Legislature could not have intended for its incrementally-listed, successively harsher, expungement options to be upended by stayed impositions that get called misdemeanors only by virtue of Minn. Stat §609.13.  Justice Lillehaug wrote a forceful dissent, asserting that by the plain words of Minn. Stat §609.13,  petitioners felony conviction was “deemed to be for a misdemeanor.”  He further wrote that the expungement statute created multiple “doorways” for seeking expungement, which are not themselves”destinations.”  The law still required district courts to consider the severity of the underlying crime and any mitigating or aggravating factors.  And due to the ambiguity of the expungement statute, “was convicted” could just as easily be read through the lens of the “deemed” language of Minn. Stat §609.13.  Justice Lillehaug concluded with his hope that “the Legislature will clarify the expungement statute to reopen this door.”

The impact of this decision could be huge.  An amicus brief in the case noted that district court judges across the state granted more than 26,000 stays of imposition from 2008 to 2012, but some of these might have involved otherwise-expungible felonies.  If you have ever read the expungement law and found it unclear, this decision shows that you are not alone. If you are interested in seeking expungement and not sure how this decision affects you, it is all the more reason to come to an expungement clinic and discuss your case with a lawyer.

 

boy looking at flagYou may have caught the recent story of nearly 900 immigrants who recently became American citizens in a St. Paul ceremony.  One particular immigrant-cum-citizen had recently been affected by President Trump’s new executive order regarding immigrant travel that had temporarily kept her from returning to Minnesota.   The controversial  order has since been put on judicial hold, but none of these brand-new citizens will have to be concerned with it when making future travel plans. This story illustrates that where citizenship is concerned, it is obviously easier to be born a citizen per the Fourteenth Amendment’s citizenship clause than it is to obtain such status later in life.

This citizenship distinction wasn’t always so clear.   The elusive but pivotal Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark was decided in 1898, only two years after Plessy v. Ferguson.  In said case, Wong Kim Ark was born in 1873 in San Francisco to Chinese immigrant parents. His parents later returned to their homeland, but Ark remained in San Francisco, occasionally traveling to China to visit his folks. It was only on his return home from such a visit in 1895 that he was detained by border officials and not allowed back in.  This was due to strict enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act under which he was not considered a citizen. Ark contested his exclusion, asserting that he was in fact a citizen and thus the Act did not apply to him. The end decision was the literal and absolute interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s opening clause, “[A]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

President Trump has called for an end to what he calls “birthright citizenship,” which is at odds with the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment.   This year’s ABA Law Day theme happens to be [T]he Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy. Beyond just the citizenship clause, expect to hear more about the Fourteenth Amendment and our planned Law Day celebration in weeks to come.