Statewide Category Archive: Courts
Concerned about a recent cross burning at the home of a woman and her adult mixed-race children, a Bemidji group focused on race relations will host a community anti-racism rally Thursday.
Members of Shared Vision have scheduled the rally for 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Beltrami County courthouse pavilion.
"We are hoping all residents who have concern about this issue will consider participating in the rally," event organizer Cory Cochran said in a news release. "We are asking elected officials from Bemidji, as well as White Earth, Red Lake and Leech Lake to speak for two to 10 minutes at this event.
"We are encouraging speakers to focus on moving forward, what we can do in the Bemidji area to promote a climate of support for difference, uniqueness and ethnically diverse peoples," Cochran said.
Bemidji State University psychology professor John Gonzalez will be the keynote speaker at the rally. Gonzalez has a background in multicultural research methods and statistics.
The cross burning incident was reported at 12:40 a.m. on May 25. A woman reported that the eight-foot cross was propped up against a tree in her yard. She extinguished the fire with a garden hose. Deputies later found racist messages on the cross.
The victim is white. Her two adult children have a black father.
Two Bemidji men were arrested last week in connection with the cross burning. Derek Daniel Barnes, 20, faces felony stalking/harassment charges. Ryan Fairbanks Andree, 19, is charged with felony aiding and abetting stalking/harassment.
Posted at 4:02 PM on December 19, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Courts
By Elizabeth Dunbar
Among rural Minnesota counties that have metal detectors for their courthouses, most only use them for certain court cases and do not have a permanent staff person dedicated to overseeing the metal detector.
Chisago County bought a new metal detector for its courthouse a few years ago and paid about $4,000 for it, Sheriff Rick Duncan said.
Duncan said it's used so infrequently that the cost of staffing it just comes out of the sheriff department's regular budget, and he did not have a breakdown of how much Chisago County has spent staffing it in the past year. But he said if it were specifically billed, staffing it would involve paying two sheriff's deputies an overtime rate of $42-$44/hour each. One deputy monitors the people going through the metal detector to see if they set off the alarm; the other visually inspects purses, briefcases and metal items court visitors remove from their pockets.
The cost of staffing a courthouse metal detector varies greatly based on how often and for what purpose it is used. Duncan said if it's used for an entire trial, it might need to be staffed for long hours as visitors, attorneys and jurors go in and out of court.
MPR News: Metal detectors not a given at Minn. courthouses
Posted at 1:11 PM on November 7, 2011
by Mark Steil
Filed under: Courts
The latest stop for the down-sizing of Minnesota's public defense system is in the southern part of the state. The Fairmont Sentinel says a public defender's office serving four counties from the south-central Minnesota city will close.
Public defender's represent people in court who can't pay for their own attorney. Budget cuts have made life tough for those lawyers. Detroit Lakes attorney David Stowman chairman of the Minnesota Board of Public Defense, says the system is "struggling". He says budget cuts means the average state public defender works about 70 percent more cases per year than is recommended by the American Bar Association.
MPR News reporter Jessica Mador reported on the system last year, finding that one public defender figured his caseload meant he could spend about 12 minutes per client per day.
Stowman says one thing which may help ease caseloads a little is the legal system's growing reliance on electronic communication. For certain courtroom proceedings, he says, public defenders in some cases may be able to appear through a video hookup and save the driving time.