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Bar Buzz: No civil relief for jail time, court tells MacDonald

Michelle MacDonald Shimota, well-known to Bar Buzz readers as a candidate for election to the Minnesota Supreme Court, has lost her case against Dakota County over her alleged mistreatment when she was arrested and jailed in September 2013.

Michelle MacDonald Shimota

Michelle MacDonald Shimota

MacDonald ran into trouble for taking pictures in a Dakota County courtroom. She was arrested when she refused to cooperate with being ticketed for contempt and she was jailed when she refused to provide any information.

She originally brought 22 claims against the county and various individuals under the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments and state law. All but three were dismissed.

In September, Judge John Tunheim dismissed the remainder — a 14th Amendment claim relating to the conditions of MacDonald’s confinement at the jail, a Fourth Amendment claim based on the search of MacDonald’s digital camera, and a theft or unlawful taking claim based on the alleged loss of MacDonald’s gold cross pendant.

Tunheim said MacDonald provided no evidence about her confinement conditions or that her pendant was taken. He also said that the law did not clearly establish that a warrant was required to search her camera and dismissed that claim based on qualified immunity.

The dismissal meant that MacDonald could not use her expert witness, a “jail practice liability expert,” said Tunheim.


Wentzell named to 8th District bench 

Stephen Wentzell

Stephen Wentzell

Stephen Wentzell, First Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney, has been named by Gov. Mark Dayton to the bench to replace Judge Donald Spilseth. He will be chambered in Willmar in Kandiyohi County.

Previously, he was an Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney and a law clerk for Judge David L. Mennis in the 8th Judicial District. He earned a B.A. in political science and organizational communications from Concordia College, Moorhead and a J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.



Wolpert to head LPRB

Robin Wolpert

Robin Wolpert

Robin Wolpert, past president of the Minnesota State Bar Association, has been named chair of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, effective Oct. 17. She succeeds Stacy L. Vinberg as chair of the board.

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