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2021 Attorneys of the Year: Eric Rice

Julie Swiler//February 18, 2022//

Eric Rice

Eric Rice

2021 Attorneys of the Year: Eric Rice

Julie Swiler//February 18, 2022//

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On May 30, 2020, Jaleel Stallings was standing with a small group in a parking lot off of Lake Street in Minneapolis after curfew. It was five days after George Floyd was killed, and tensions were high. Suddenly, shots rang out from an unmarked van. Stallings fired back, unaware it was police officers firing rubber bullets.

As soon as he realized that, Stallings dropped his weapon and lay face-down on the ground. The officers beat him and arrested him.

Stallings was charged with attempted murder and assault. His attorney, Eric Rice, thought this was a straightforward case of self-defense, and the facts were on Stallings side. Still, he knew that his client faced an uphill battle given the charges he was facing.

There were challenges from the start as Stalling’s self-defense claim was almost kept from the jury. “Twice, we had to convince a judge that the evidence was sufficient,” Rice says. In addition, he had to counter officers’ claims that Stallings shot first and resisted arrest.

What the defense did have was two hours of bodycam footage. With that evidence, Rice was able to prove to the jury that Stallings did not provoke the attack, that he feared bodily harm, that his fear was reasonable, and that Stallings only used reasonable force to respond to the attack. In July 2021, Stallings was acquitted of all charges.

Rice wonders what the outcome would have been without the bodycam footage. “Stallings was looking at a mandatory minimum of 10 years. If everything had not gone perfectly, he would be in prison,” he said.

This is the kind of case that motivates the Harvard Law graduate, who opened the Law Office of Eric A. Rice in 2010. “I’ve always tried to use my skills to help even out power balances to get a fairer result,” Rice says. “That is why I like defense work.”

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2021 here.

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