Staff Directory 186499941

Brandon Stahl

Reporter | Federal courts and agencies reporter
Phone: 612-673-4626
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Brandon Stahl is the federal courts and agencies reporter for the Star Tribune. He previously covered Hennepin county courts and was an investigative reporter at the paper, writing extensively about criminal justice, police and child protection. You can reach Stahl on Signal: 612-467-9841.


In more than a dozen years as a journalist, Stahl's stories on medical malpractice, nursing care failures, child protection and law enforcement handling of sex crimes has resulted in numerous calls for reform and changes in state laws, as well as state and national journalism awards.
Recent content from Brandon Stahl
Jake Anderson's parents Bill and Kristi visited the site along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, where Jacob's body was found. Bill climbed up an

Parents of U student who froze ask if more could have been done

They have filed a federal lawsuit against the Minneapolis, Hennepin County and Hennepin Healthcare.The city of Minneapolis and HCMC say their first responders followed best practices and their protocols that morning.
Dontay Lavarice Reese pleaded guilty to the violent August 2017 kidnapping.

Minneapolis serial rapist gets 27 years in prison

The victim endured 12 hours of kidnapping, torture.
After the U.S. Bank pension plan lost more than $1 billion in the 2008 market crash, current and retired workers of the bank sued.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear suit over U.S. Bank pension funding

U.S. Bank employees and retirees argue that the fund previously was mismanaged, so they should have the right to decide who manages the fund in the future.

Scammers dupe victims using U.S. marshals' phone numbers

Con artists are spoofing phone numbers from U.S. marshals to scam people out of money, the Marshals Service warned Friday."This tactic is known as neighbor…
Martha Gibbs, a friend and former inmate with Amreya Shefa, wept while talking about her at Tuesday’s hearing.

Emotions strong, debate intense as Pardons Board weighs fates

Pardon for woman who killed her husband in 2013 appears unlikely.
The Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington after the 2017 explosion.

Court filing: Bloomington mosque bombing suspect tried to escape from custody

Michael Hari made escape attempt while in transit from Illinois to Minnesota
FILE - In this April 4, 2013, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook’s plan to

Twin Cities app founder suing Facebook over alleged copyright violation

Facebook released its own app called "Lasso"
Luis Hummel at his hemp farm.

Minnesota hemp farmer faces felony charges over products' THC content

Luis Hummel had previously sued the Department of Agriculture after his license was suspended.
Aida Shyef Al-Kadi

Judge rules Muslim woman's lawsuit against Ramsey Co. jail over hijab may proceed

Muslim woman, Ramsey County jail can go trial.
Pardon process Two on the pardons board would have to agree to hear Amreya Shefa’s (above) case. The board is made up of Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney Gen

Pardon hearing set for rape survivor who served time after killing husband

She needs her name cleared to stay in the U.S.
Abdulkadir Abdi and his wife, Rhoda Christenson. He came to the United States in 2002; he was arrested in January 2018 and told he would be deported.

Immigrant detentions, requests for relief rise in Minnesota

Cabduqaadir Mayow fled Somalia in 2014 and asked the United States for asylum, saying the terrorist group al-Shabab was threatening to kill him. A judge,…
Luis Hummel at his hemp farm in Lanesboro, Minn. "This is war," he said.

Minnesota hemp grower fights state to keep his crop

Luis Hummel of Lanesboro is suing the state Department of Agriculture after it said his crop had too much THC.

Federal judges dismiss two misconduct lawsuits against Minneapolis, St. Paul police

One was a suit brought by a man who had been detained and tased at a Vikings game and another arrested protesting the death of Philando Castile.
Laura Stearns read a statement at a press conference at attorney Jeff Anderson's, at right, office after a Minneapolis jury found the Children's Theat

Woman who sued CTC calls for boycott after request for court reimbursement

Children's Theatre's response to sex abuse suit led to confrontation.
The drug task force behind the largest meth seizure in state history provided this photo.

Meth sales, abuse are reaching a 'crisis' stage in Minnesota

Once a backwoods issue, seizures, treatment and deaths still break records.
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, right, with attorneys Peter Wold, center, and Thomas Plunkett, left, walks out of the the Hennepin Cou

Lawsuit accuses ex-officer Mohamed Noor of needlessly pointing gun during traffic stop

It's the third lawsuit filed against the former Minneapolis officer.

Jury convicts Champlin man for string of armed robberies

The crime spree began in March 2018.
Plaintiffs, from left, Tracina Ross, Ayesha McKinney, and Tammy Bloomer all recounted the sexual harassment and abuse by their probation officer while

Sex assault lawsuit against former probation officer faces immunity obstacle

Law prof wants federal worker exemption to go
In this April 13, 2019, photo provided by the ACLU of Minnesota, Mark Esqueda poses for a portrait with a photo of him as a U.S. Marine, in Heron Lake

Minnesota man, Marine vet born in U.S. sues over passport denial

Mark Esqueda wants a judge to declare once and for all that he was born in America.
Minneapolis firefighters gathered in Dinkytown on Tuesday before police took over the investigation of the substance in a residential building.

FBI: Material in Dinkytown apartment presumed to be ricin

The University of Minnesota student had come into contact with the material, but "not in a random fashion; meaning she may have been intentionally handling the material," according to the FBI statement.
Nearly 500 pages of documents, and audio and video from the 2016 police shooting of Jamie J. Lewis in Burnsville has been released, including footage

Lawsuit says Burnsville police fatally shot unarmed man in the back

Dakota County Attorney's Office called the shooting justified.
Kenyatta Buckles

Before latest arrest, serial rape suspect had long criminal history

Kenyatta Buckles was charged in March with committing multiple sexual assaults over the last four months. He is accused of targeting sex workers he had contacted online and raping them at knife point.
In 2006, a hydraulic shovel scraped up 50 tons at a time of taconite ore chunks and dumped it into a 240-ton dump truck at United Taconite in Eveleth,

Mining firm to pay $500,000 for air pollution on Minnesota's Iron Range

Environmental group calls the federal court penalty inadequate.
Council Member Linea Palmisano (with microphone) stood Wednesday at the front of the City Hall Chambers with justice officials, survivors and other co

As reform looms, sex assault survivors share stories with Mpls. Council

Minneapolis police presented a comprehensive plan to better handle the cases
Pardon process
Two on the pardons board would have to agree to hear Amreya Shefa’s (above) case. The board is made up of Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney Gen

Her time served, a rape survivor asks for a reprieve

She killed abusive husband, now fights to stay in U.S.
Setup work on Nicollet Mall ahead of the NCAA Final Four was gearing up Thursday in downtown Minneapolis.

Downtown gets ready to adjust for Final Four crowds, changes

Downtown business owners and workers will make adjustments with an anticipated arrival of nearly 100,000 visitors from out of town.
Rape victim Abby Honold joined Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and others to roll out the Minneapolis Police Department's

Minneapolis leaders unveil new plan to handle sex assault cases

The mayor and police chief promised to improve police response and place a new emphasis on victims' needs.
Pedestrians came out to view the flooding at Harriet Island Regional Park and the flowing Mississippi River in St. Paul on Monday afternoon.

Minnesota rivers continue to creep up, but flooding remains moderate

A slow melt and lots of preparation have minimized the damage.
Amreya Shefa at the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar

Her time served for manslaughter, a rape survivor in Willmar asks for a reprieve

WILLMAR – Amreya Shefa hasn’t known freedom since setting foot in the United States. After her husband brought her from Ethiopia in 2012, Shefa…
U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald, shown in June

Ex-Hiawatha Academies educator charged with sexually exploiting kids online

U.S. attorney says she wants to crack down on child exploitation cases
Harvoni is one of the new breakthrough drugs for Hepatitis C.

In class-action settlement, Minnesota prisoners win access to pricey hepatitis C drugs

Class-action suit accused state of withholding the cure for hepatitis C.

Minneapolis School District sued over building projects

A group of nonunion contractors from Minnesota and North Dakota says hiring practices discriminate.
Dmitri Moua of Roseville practices in his back yard while his mom Boa watches. loves to dance and is on his school’s dance team in Minnesota. Moua i

Court grants Minnesota boys' request to compete on dance teams

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals cited the 14th Amendment requirement that no state can "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Plaintiffs, from left, Tracina Ross, Ayesha McKinney, and Tammy Bloomer all recounted the sexual harassment and abuse by their probation officer while

Ex-Minnesota federal probation agent pleads guilty to lying in extortion case

The women who say they were victimized by Dennis Edward Bresnahan, 55, expressed disappointment that he didn't face a harsher punishment.

Minnesota sex offender accused of sextorting minors pleads not guilty

Fairmont 19-year-old is charged in federal court.

Federal judge throws out lawsuit by suspended St. Thomas student amid sex assault allegations

There was no evidence of bias by the university, the judge ruled.
Early results in Kevin Lowry's efforts creating the country’s first deradicalization program have been promising.

Launched after Minn. court cases, first U.S. deradicalization program shows promise

Program was launched after dozens of ISIS cases hit Minnesota courts.
Burnsville man pleads guilty to violent kidnapping

Burnsville man pleads guilty to violent kidnapping

Victim abducted from downtown Minneapolis in August 2017.
Citing attorney missteps, judge reduces child pornographer's sentence

Citing attorney missteps, judge reduces child pornographer's sentence

In unusual move, judge says convicted man's attorney failed him.
Orono man gets 7 years in prison for hiding millions from the IRS

Orono man gets 7 years in prison for hiding millions from the IRS

After getting out of federal prison for fraud in 2000, Scott Phillip Flynn didn’t wait long to start his next criminal venture. From 2005 to…
Dave the dog (photo by Brandon Stahl)

Rescue of schnauzer lost in below-freezing temps has surprise twist

Dave had been groomed the day before. His fur was so short. It was 15 degrees outside, and he had been gone an hour.
Two of three convicted in ISIS trial ask U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal

Two of three convicted in ISIS trial ask U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal

Both are challenging their 30-year sentences.
“You’re dealing with physical evidence, emotion, trauma. This is more than going to a burglary," Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer said.

Police undertrained and overwhelmed by rape cases in Minnesota

Inadequate training for police who investigate sexual assaults, along with poor staffing and high turnover, plagues many police departments across the state – resulting in fewer charges against suspected offenders.
Minnesota defines consent as voluntary, but its exceptions for being too drunk to agree to sex are narrow.

How alcohol foils rape investigations

Police are less likely to interview witnesses, assign cases to a detective or forward them to a prosecutor if the victim was drinking, according to a Star Tribune analysis. When cases involving alcohol do reach prosecutors, suspects are much less likely to be charged with a crime or convicted.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

When rape is reported in Minnesota and nothing happens

A Star Tribune examination of more than 1,000 recent sexual assault cases shows pervasive failings by law enforcement — neglecting to interview witnesses, collect crucial evidence, or conduct criminal background checks on suspects. Many cases were never even assigned to an investigator.
A group photo of participants in the Denied Justice series at the State Capitol in St. Paul in December.

Legislators see gap in key players as they reform rape laws

Bills part of launch of "Gender-Based Violence Prevention Week"
Women who were victims of sexual assault pose for a photo together at the state Capitol in St. Paul in December.

State lawmaker calls for bipartisan rape reform legislation

Sen. Warren Limmer sees promise in Swanson's 25 recommendations .
James Mahlon Rupp

James Mahlon Rupp, TV pioneer at WCCO, dies at 83

The TV veteran and visionary put his creativity to work at WCCO.
Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington after the 2017 bombing.

Two plead guilty to militia activities leading to Bloomington mosque bombing

Michael McWhorter, 30, and Joe Morris, 25, face a minimum of 35 years in prison. A third man has pleaded not guilty and faces a trial in March.
Reps. Kelly Moller, D-Shoreview, at left, and Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake, introduced the bill.

Minn. lawmakers introduce bill to address failings in sex assault investigations

Legislation would set new rules for all Minnesota law enforcement agencies.

Minnesota congressional members reintroduce sexual assault bill named for U student

Two Minnesota congressional members this week are reintroducing bipartisan sexual assault legislation named after a former University of Minnesota student-turned-activist whose rape case brought national…
Jake Thomas Patterson has been arrested in the kidnapping of Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents, officials said.

Jake Patterson: Suspected killer, kidnapper's life remains a mystery

Jake Patterson had no criminal record or social media footprint.

Shutdown could hit Minn. advocacy groups for victims of abuse, sexual assault

Victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault could face a loss of services.
Farass Adnan Ali (Facebook)

Minnesota judge: Refugee held for 18 months not a threat, must be released

No terror threat has been proved, federal ruling says.
Hoping others receive justice they were denied led many women to add their voices to the series investigating failed rape investigations.

When rape is reported and something happens

As dozens more women have stepped forward to tell their stories, reforms are underway in Minnesota. Victim advocates and rape survivors say they are heartened by the pledges of reform by police leaders, prosecutors and lawmakers.
Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering leads the workgroup. “We have to recognize that victims have gone through a traumatic event and make sure we

New rules for Minnesota police on rape calls

Law enforcement officers responding to sexual assaults in Minnesota would be expected to follow strict new protocols — including the best ways to gather evidence and interview victims — under a draft policy prepared for the state's police licensing board.
Hennepin County’s new ‘restorative court’ will allow to those charged with minor offenses to clear their record if they follow treatment and oth

Hennepin County's 'restorative court' to help people charged with minor crimes

Hennepin County expands homeless court to wider range of defendants, low-level crimes.
MNsure logo. ORG XMIT: MIN1703201622012504 ORG XMIT: MIN1705121252072706

Despite ACA ruling, nothing changes for Minnesota

With the ruling likely to be appealed, it will likely take months for it to go through the court process.
When detective Justin Boardman realized he was failing sex assault victims, he decided to change — himself and his entire department in Utah.

A better way to investigate rape

Utah's shift is a promising sign of how a state can do more to help rape victims get the justice that so often eludes them — if everyone involved is working with the same priorities.
Survivors Rachel Radford, left, and Emma Top each knew their assailant and saw him sentenced, but both came away feeling the punishment was not severe

Convicted for rape in Minnesota, free from prison time

Felons spend less time in prison in Minnesota, and the state says that's by design.
Nichole Sipes of the St. Paul Police Department participated in the rape investigations task force, which met Tuesday at the Minnesota State Capitol i

Minn. task force sees 'systemic' shortcomings with rape cases

State task force appointed by Attorney General Lori Swanson points to action required by Legislature, judiciary, law enforcement, prosecutors and public.
Alesha Erickson was photographed in her apartment Sept. 21, 2018 in Mountain Iron, Minn. She was raped in a different unit in the building and moved t

Special Report: A victim heard, justice served

Many sexual assault reports in Minnesota are poorly investigated. Most don't result in charges or convictions. This one was different.
Bradley Traaseth asked authorities multiple times to file charges against the men suspected of raping his daughter, Hannah. He was unsuccessful.

Minnesota rape cases: Rejected by the prosecution

In Minnesota, half of sex assault cases police send to prosecutors never result in charges. Prosecutors reject cases that include DNA evidence, witnesses, and sometimes even confessions, records show.
Tim Bildsoe led the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, during a vote in 2017. “Everything is on the table,” Bildsoe said in an int

Minnesota police board promises steps to improve sex assault investigations

POST Board will prepare officer training standards and a model policy for sex assault investigations.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman plans several measures to improve the way his office and Minneapolis police pursue sexual assault cases.

Freeman pledges to strengthen sex assault investigations

The Hennepin County attorney said he was surprised at how many cases seem to go nowhere.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

Frey pledges 'care and compassion' for sex assault victims

Minneapolis mayor was responding to a report showing chronic failings in sex assault investigations in Minnesota.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

Public officials call sexual assault stories 'horrific'

Lawmakers, prosecutors respond to report on breakdowns in assault investigations.
State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, in a March 2015 file photo.

State rep accused by advocate of unwanted touching; he says it was not sexual

Following allegations against Rep. Rod Hamilton, Republican leaders of the state House have suspended him as committee chairman.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman described the charges against Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting death of Justin Ruszczyk D

Key question: Was Noor fearful during Damond shooting?

Noor's partner said he "perceived his life was in danger" and pulled his gun, according to charges.
FILE - In this May 2016 file image provided by the City of Minneapolis, police officer Mohamed Noor poses for a photo at a community event welcoming h

Grand jury testimony begins in Noor shooting case

The list of officers summoned to testify before a grand jury Tuesday indicates that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is trying to meet the legal standard to charge Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, legal experts say.
Reggie Lynch

Dates set for Lynch appeal hearing; attorney says they're too soon

Hearing dates are set for early February for suspended University of Minnesota basketball player Reggie Lynch to appeal findings he was responsible for sexual misconduct against two women.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman

Mike Freeman convenes grand jury in Damond shooting death

The Hennepin County attorney reversed course in the case of a Minneapolis police officer who shot Justine Damond in an alley after she had called 911 to report a possible crime.
Megan Cater

2 south metro women plead guilty to murder for role in fatal drug robbery

The young women avoid life in prison for a drug robbery that went awry.
Gregory Matthew Dolphin credit: Hennepin County Sheriff

Businessman suffering from brain disease sentenced to home monitoring for child porn

Greg Dolphin, 63, sentenced to year of home monitoring.
Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt with his then K-9 partner, Dakota.

Obituary: Reed Schmidt, Atwater's former police chief, dies at 67

Jerry Spencer remembers sitting on the Atwater City Council in the mid-1990s, conducting interview after interview in search of a new police chief for the central Minnesota town, population 1,100. Reed Schmidt stood out. Social, friendly and outgoing, "he just seemed like the man for the position," Spencer said.
More from Star Tribune