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Bar Buzz: Police ruling appeal, racism settlement, and more

Laura Brown//March 25, 2022

Jacob Frey

The Upper Midwest Law Center claims that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is essentially “dismantling” the police by not employing as many officers as are dictated by city charter. (AP file photo)

Bar Buzz: Police ruling appeal, racism settlement, and more

Laura Brown//March 25, 2022

Appeal

On Friday, March 18, the Upper Midwest Law Center moved to expedite the appeal of the Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that held Minneapolis’ mayor has no duty to employ police officers at the rate laid out by city charter. At district court, Minneapolis was ordered to take necessary action to fund a fully staffed police force as defined by the city charter. The Midwest Law Center is arguing two things. First, it claims that the mayor is essentially “dismantling” the police by not employing as many officers as are dictated by city charter, and that his reasoning relies on an incorrect interpretation of the city statute. It also argues that the Court of Appeals was wrong not to address the petitioners’ argument that the City Council is not providing enough funding for police, given the fact that there are not as many police officers employed as the charter requires and Mayor Jacob Frey’s testimony that he would require additional money to hire more officers. The motion to expedite the appeal is necessary, says James Dickey, senior trial counsel for the center, because petitioners are “suffering because of the crime wave caused by lack of police protection.”

Settlements

East Carver County Schools and families have settled a lawsuit about alleged inaction toward racist bullying at the schools. Petitioners included students from elementary, middle, and high schools in the district, including a 7-year-old child. One student alleged that a racial slur was written on his gym shirt when he was attending middle school. The 7-year-old was apparently punched and told he did not belong. Students also attested that students were wearing blackface both during school events and on social media. Of the six students named in the lawsuit, four left. On March 9, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota issued a consent decree. East Carver County Schools will provide anti-racism and anti-harassment and anti-bullying training for all students. Additionally, the district will have a team of staff members that will evaluate the implementation of the anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies and procedures. Those policies will be implemented no later than the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

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A Wisconsin man whose foot was injured at a Garth Brooks concert in 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium has received a $1.25 million settlement, part of which will be paid by Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which oversees the stadium. While details of the extent of the injury are unclear, the amount of the settlement suggests a significant injury. A large steel hydraulic wedge-shaped barrier was lowered onto the man’s foot. The wedge has large spikes to prevent vehicles from driving into the area.

Sentences

A member of the “Boogaloo Bois”—a group that expresses violent anti-government sentiments—has been sentenced to prison for conspiring to provide material support to Hamas. In May 2020, the FBI initiated an investigation into 31-year-old Michael Robert Solomon of New Brighton and a co-defendant. Solomon and his co-defendant met with a confidential human source posing as a member of Hamas. At the meeting, the men proposed helping Hamas. In another meeting, the men proposed manufacturing untraceable firearms, fully automatic firearms, and suppressors for Hamas. They purchased a drill press for the purpose of manufacturing suppressors, manufactured five suppressors, and delivered those with the belief that they would be used by the militant wing of Hamas. They also provided a 3D printed “auto sear” to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic rifles. Solomon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization. He was sentenced on March 10 to 36 months in prison, with five years of supervised release to follow.

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On March 22, Arkady Pavlovich Pichurin, 26, was sentenced to 204 months in prison for producing child pornography by using the app Snapchat. Pichurin sexually exploited a minor who, at the time, was between the ages of 9 and 10. He contacted the minor through apps and texting and lied to the minor about his age and identity. Pichurin admitted to using the same tactics to sexually exploit and produce pornographic media of more than 20 minors. Additionally, Pichurin had thousands of images depicting sexual abuse of infants and toddlers. He pleaded guilty to one count of producing sexually explicit images and videos of a minor in September 2021.

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Marlow Ramsey Carson, 31, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the violent armed robbery of Minneapolis businesses. On April 27, 2021, Carson robbed Blue Sky Wireless and West Bend Furniture stores. He stuck a handgun under the counter’s plexiglass barrier and demanded money. The clerk tried to shut the door to keep Carson out, but Carson shot him in the chest from pointblank range before fleeing the scene. The clerk was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound when he reached the emergency room. Carson pleaded guilty on December 10, 2021, to one count of interference with commerce by robbery and one count of possession of ammunition as a felon. He will serve 360 months and have three years of supervised release.

Guilty

St. Paul resident Geryiell Lamont Walker, 22, has pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the making of false statements during the purchase of firearms. Walker and two co-defendants conspired to illegally purchase dozens of firearms and provide them to those who could not lawfully have firearms. The defendants illegally straw purchased 97 firearms, including 62 in May 2021. However, only 18 of the firearms have been recovered. Seventy-nine of the firearms are still potentially in use. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27.

A hemp plant
A hemp plant is shown in Clayton Township, Michigan, in this August 2019 photo. (AP file photo)

Increased clarity on cannabis

There has been a lot of confusion over cannabis products in Minnesota, particularly in the case of what is sold by distributors. On Wednesday, March 16, there was a bit more clarity when the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy voted to permit small amounts of THC in hemp products sold over the counter. The vote clarified that these hemp products do not violate the Controlled Substances Act. The confusion stems from a Court of Appeals decision in September. Under both state and federal law, hemp and any derivatives are legal if they contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. The court, however, upheld a drug conviction based on evidence of THC in vape liquid. This ruling made providers question whether their hemp-derived CBD products would be considered a controlled substance, opening them and their customers up to charges. Delta-8 THC, on the other hand, remains a murky issue that will need resolution.

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