5/25/2010 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Sweet Victory for Community Access to MPD Complaints
  • CUAPB Support for Local Event Against Anti-Immigrant Law SB1070
  • Courtwatch: Dolan Ordered to Appear to Explain Lack of Discipline in CRA Cases
  • Courtwatch: Paul Hansen
  • Carver County Deputy Charged with Stealing Meth from Evidence Room
  • You Have the Right to Remain Constitutional

SWEET!  IMPORTANT VICTORY FOR COMMUNITY ACCESS TO MINNEAPOLIS POLICE COMPLAINTS

Earlier today, the State Court of Appeals released its ruling in our lawsuit Communities United Against Police Brutality vs. City of Minneapolis (available at http://www.mncourts.gov/opinions/coa/current/opa091972-0525.pdf ).  The ruling essentially upholds the right of public access to information about the status of police complaints.  We are absolutely delighted about this victory for the community.
 
Perhaps even more significant, this ruling also restores the right of complainants to appeal non-sustained complaints.  For the past two years, people filing complaints with the CRA have not been able to know the outcome of their cases, effectively denying them the right of appeal as provided for in the ordinance.  Under this ruling, the CRA must tell people their cases are not sustained.
 
In the past, the CRA routinely released information on complaints in response to requests under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA).  CUAPB, members of the media and the general public were permitted to know of the existence of a complaint, the status of the complaint anywhere along the process, whether the complaint was sustained or not sustained, whether the complaint was referred to the chief of police for discipline and, once the complaint has reached final disposition, any discipline imposed.
 
However, on May 2, 2007, the Minneapolis city attorney’s office issued a memo directing the CRA staff and board to cease releasing status information on cases.  The CRA immediately reclassified all cases, including sustained cases from years ago as “closed” with no indication as to how the case was actually handled.  After trying other means to get the city to follow the MGDPA, we filed suit in February 2009 in state court.  The initial ruling from Judge Regina Chu was so bad that both sides wanted to appeal it.  In early April, the appeal was heard and the decision was announced today. 

We are pleased as punch that our actions has returned transparency to the CRA complaint process and helped people regain their rights.


MN National Day of Action Against SB1070

Saturday, May 29 from noon to 3pm
Whipple Federal Building (Light Rail to Fort Snelling stop)
1 Federal Drive St. Paul, MN 55111

Meetup for Copwatch:
10:30 a.m.
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

CUAPB has endorsed the May 29th local march in solidarity with the National Day of Action Against Arizona's SB1070, a vicious law that codifies racial profiling and attacks on immigrants. Part of the urgency of the local action is that backward legislators have introduced a copycat bill in Minnesota.  We will be supporting the local action by providing copwatch to provide a measure of safety for the marchers.  Marchers will meet at the Whipple Federal Building, home to the local branch of the notorious Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as the local Homeland Security office.

Afterwards the march will head to nearby Fort Snelling to link up with people protesting the renovation of the fort, which was used as a Dakota concentration camp.  You can find more information about the protest here: http://may29resistance.wordpress.com/

If you would like to help us with copwatch, meet us at Walker church at 10:30 a.m. for a short training.  From there, we will assign people to teams and go together to the march.


Courtwatch: Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan Ordered to Appear in Court and Explain Lack of Discipline in CRA Cases

Friday, June 4 at 8:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center, Room 757

As a result of our Writ action, Judge Susan Burke has ordered Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan to appear in her courtroom on June 4th to explain why he has been violating the law in failing to issue discipline based on the CRA's findings of fact in sustained cases.  For more information on the case, see http://kstp.com/news/stories/S1553383.shtml?cat=1
This should be some amazing courtwatching--don't miss it!


Courtwatch: Paul Hansen

Friday, June 4 at 3:00 p.m.
Hennepin County Government Center

Some of you joined us a couple of years ago when we protested the Newport City Council over ongoing harassment by the local police of CUAPB board member Paul Hansen.  Paul continues to experience harassment from police.  In this latest incident, he was changing the locks on a rental property he owns when cops accused him of having a knife.  When they searched him and none was found, he was charged with felony terroristic threats.  They handcuffed him so tight that his wrists bled before handing him a ticket.  This is just the latest in a long string of bogus charges.  We need to let the cops know that we have Paul's back.


THIS DUDE'S A REAL WINNER: CARVER COUNTY DEPUTY CHARGED FOR STEALING METH FROM EVIDENCE ROOM

Updated: 05/25/2010 10:08 PM KSTP.com
By: Liz O'Connell
http://kstp.com/article/Pstories/S1576198.shtml

[]

A Carver County Sheriff's Deputy is charged stealing methamphetamine from the department's evidence room.

According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video shows 47-year-old Daniel David Kahlow entering the evidence room and drug evidence vault at the Carver County Sheriff's Office and departing during the same time frame.

An audit conducted on May 22nd revealed that several items appeared to have been tampered with or moved.

Kahlow appeared at the sheriff's office Sunday on his day off and was arrested.

BCA agents executed a search warrant and found a Carver County evidence bag with 15.5 grams of methamphetamine and two smaller bags of methamphetamine, one weighing 5.1 grams and the other 2.8 grams, in Kahlow's right front pants pocket.

A glass pipe was also found in Kahlow's left front pants pocket.

The deputy is charged with second degree possession of six grams or more of methamphetamine.

Kahlow is an 18-year veteran of the Carver County Sheriff’s Office. Most recently, he served as the department’s latent fingerprint examiner and as one of four staff members who were authorized to enter the evidence room.

Kahlow is in custody at the Wright County Jail.

If convicted, Kahlow faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.


YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN CONSTITUTIONAL
By Sol Wachter
May 12, 2010
New York Times

SINCE its adoption after a landmark 1966 Supreme Court decision, the Miranda warning has worked its way into not only everyday police procedure, but American culture as well ­ even if you’ve never been arrested, you probably know the words “anything you say can and will be used against you.”

But as the Obama administration considers carving out an exception to the Miranda rules < http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/us/politics/10holder.html>  for terrorism suspects in the wake of the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, the Connecticut man accused of being the Times Square bomber, it’s important to note how little most people understand what Miranda does and doesn’t mean.

First and foremost, the failure to give a Miranda warning does not result in a case being dismissed. It only results in the inability of the police to use a confession and its fruits in evidence. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of successful criminal prosecutions do not involve confessions.

The warning’s genesis lies in the Fifth Amendment, which says that the government may not compel a person “in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The framers knew how easy it was to obtain a confession through torture or other forms of overt coercion, and how tempting it was for a government to use such tactics. To prohibit this kind of abuse, the founders said, in effect, that a person could not be forced to confess.

The problem was trying to determine what counted as a coerced confession. Well into the 20th century, police officers would beat suspects, or keep defendants in isolation for days, to get a confession. The methods of police interrogation were so diverse, and the effects of isolation, intimidation and defendant ignorance so varied, that appellate courts found it difficult to determine afterward whether a confession had been truly voluntary.

Finally, in 1966, the Miranda decision < http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0384_0436_ZO.html > established a universal standard, requiring people in police custody to be read their rights before being questioned. Under most circumstances, failure to comply with this rule would lead to a suppression of the confession.

However, contrary to common belief, the Miranda warning doesn’t confer rights; it simply reminds arrestees of the rights already granted to them by the Constitution. Moreover, talk-show hosts and television police dramas have led people to believe that before the police may interrogate or arrest a suspect, the Miranda warning must be given. That just isn’t the case. Neither arrest alone nor interrogation alone (if there has been no arrest) requires the warning to be given. Miranda applies only to in-custody questioning; a statement made to the police by a suspect not in custody is not subject to Miranda.

Still, many supporters of Miranda exclusions argue that the rule hamstrings law enforcement. This is wrong, too.

When Miranda was decided, I was a young lawyer who had served in the military police and was chairman of the Committee on Public Safety of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors ­ in short, law enforcement was a big part of my life. I, along with members of the county police force, the prosecutor’s office and others in the law enforcement community, was frightened by the decision. Would arresting officers ever remember to read the entire warning? We envisioned wily defense lawyers using Miranda to suppress a confession, often the strongest foundation on which to build a conviction.

Over time, however, police compliance became second nature, and the warning has become a routine part of post-arrest interrogation. Today, judges only rarely suppress confessions because the warning wasn’t given, and acquittals on the basis of such a suppression are even rarer. In fact, because it clarifies more than inhibits the arrest and interrogation process, law enforcement agencies nationwide support Miranda.

The truth is, we may have even reached the point where defendants are so familiar with the warning that they forget its meaning; indeed, the penal system is filled with prisoners who confessed or incriminated themselves despite having been read their rights.

This doesn’t mean that Miranda is irrelevant, or that there isn’t a place for exceptions. In 1982, while I was a judge on New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, we heard a case in which a man was said to have entered a supermarket with a loaded gun. When the police detained the man, they found him wearing an empty holster, and they asked him the whereabouts of the weapon. After he showed the police where he had hidden the gun, he was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

The lower courts held that he should have been given his Miranda warning before being asked the location of the gun. I wrote an opinion, later embraced by the Supreme Court < http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&amp;vol=467&amp;invol=649 > , that created an “emergency exception” to Miranda, allowing the police to defuse a dangerous situation before administering the warning.

But resolving immediate emergencies is about as far as we should go in delaying the Miranda reading or creating exceptions to it. To open non-emergency exceptions, like the one proposed by the Obama administration for terrorism suspects, would be to go down a road toward the eventual nullification of the constitutional protection against self-incrimination.

The Miranda rule strikes a delicate balance, enabling us to protect a fundamental constitutional right without forcing the courts to allow the legitimacy of every confession to be proven before it is allowed into evidence. To compromise the rule would be counterproductive and destructive to the kind of freedom we enjoy as Americans ­ a freedom that terrorists would like nothing better than to destroy.

Sol Wachtler is a professor of constitutional law at Touro Law School and former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals.


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