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Neal Katyal (clockwise from top left), Lola Velázquez-Aguilu, Jerry Blackwell, Steven L. Schleicher

All-star lawyers sign onto Floyd murder case

Attorney General Keith Ellison has added four heavy-hitter trial lawyers—including one former acting U.S. solicitor general—to help prosecute the George Floyd murder case.

Ellison’s move to bulk his trial team also creates a vacancy at the chair’s position on the state’s Judicial Selection Commission.

All four attorneys are signing on pro bono, the AG’s office said. The additions include:

  • Neal Katyal, partner at the international law firm Hogan Lovells and a former acting U.S. solicitor general. Katyal also is a former principal deputy U.S. solicitor general. He is something of a celebrity attorney, at least if his frequent appearances on progressive media like the MSNBC cable channel are any gauge. Katyal has orally argued 41 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, according to his firm’s web site.
  • Lola Velázquez-Aguilu is stepping down as chair of the state Judicial Selection Commission to take on the Floyd case. A former prosecutor with Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, she prosecuted complex multi-defendant, white-collar crime cases, including the convictions of several former Starkey Hearing Technologies executives. She is litigation and investigations counsel for Medtronic.
  • Jerry Blackwell is the founding partner at Minneapolis law firm Blackwell Burke, P.A. Last month, he helped secure Minnesota’s first posthumous pardon for Max Mason, who was wrongly convicted of rape in connection with the 1920 Duluth lynchings.
  • Steven L. Schleicher is a former prosecutor with the Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney’s Office and state Attorney General’s Office. Now a partner at the Minneapolis law firm Maslon L.L.P., he also is a former prosecutor in the Winona County Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Army Reserve JAG Corps. In 2016, he led the successful prosecution of Danny James Heinrich in the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping and murder case.

“Out of respect for Judge [Peter] Cahill’s gag order, I will say simply that I’ve put together an exceptional team with experience and expertise across many disciplines,” Ellison said in a press release Monday. “We are united in our responsibility to pursue justice in this case.”

All four of new prosecution team members were appointed as special assistants to the attorney general, Ellison’s office said.

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