The criminal trial of Michelle MacDonald, the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, began yesterday in Dakota County.
As first reported by the Star Tribune, MacDonald was arrested in April 2013 on suspicion of drunk driving and resisting arrest. As I wrote in previous post, MacDonald is one of the only candidates for statewide office in the modern political history of Minnesota to face a criminal trial during the election season.
The process of selecting the jury (four women and four men) who will ultimately decide MacDonald's fate occupied most of the court's time yesterday. In opening statements made by the prosecutor Benjamin Colburn, MacDonald was speeding and driving erratically on the night she was stopped by Rosemount police and she later refused field sobriety tests and additional alcohol tests at the police station.
MacDonald's attorney, Stephen Grigsby, said in his opening remarks that MacDonald "may have been speeding", but there was no justification for her arrest and no evidence of her driving while intoxicated. MacDonald's legal team lost a bid last week for cameras to be allowed in the courtroom for her trial, which is expected to last until Wednesday. I'll have additional updates today on MacDonald's trial, so please check back.
UPDATE: September 17, 2014 - 8:24 AM - Yesterday's the jury was shown video of MacDonald's arrest and heard testimony from officers who arrested MacDonald. A lab technician from Fairview Ridges Hospital testified MacDonald's blood was taken at 4:25 AM on April 6, 2013, a few hours after her arrest. The amount of alcohol in MacDonald's blood was less than .01, which is the lowest amount the machine testing the blood could register. On cross examination, prosecutor Benjamin Colburn, established the limits of the machine could not prove MacDonald did not have alcohol in her system.
The trial is scheduled to resume this morning with closing arguments and then jury deliberations. Please follow my Twitter account for immediate updates and check back to this post for a detailed update at the conclusion of the trial.
UPDATE: September 17, 2014 - 4:19 PM - Michelle MacDonald was found guilty today of refusal to submit to testing and obstructing the legal process or arrest, but was found not guilty of driving while intoxicated. MacDonald was arrested in April 2013 on suspicion of drinking and driving and resisting arrest. Judge Leslie Metzen also found MacDonald guilty of speeding and she was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation before she is formally sentenced on November 12, 2014.
Fellow Star Tribune blogger Mark Andrew has written a must-read post about politics at the Minnesota State Fair. While I disagree with some of his conclusions, the Minnesota State Fair and politics go together like All-You-Can-Drink Milk and Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies.
For candidates running for office this year, there is no better opportunity to poll the electorate and talk with Minnesota voters than at the state fair. It's a must for candidates - that is why some are willing to fight to be seen and heard.
There are just two more days of the Minnesota State Fair and I'll be making another stop at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. For voters and candidates, there is still plenty of time to discuss issues and more importantly, eat some chocolate desert salami and Jell-O Salad Ice Cream.
How perfectly Minnesotan.
Picture source: Minnesota State Fair
As I've written before, this election cycle has been a bit sleepy in Minnesota. But the sleepy campaign season has now turned into one of the silliest campaign seasons I have ever seen. I wrote less blog posts than I expected this week because the material being pushed by campaigns was just ridiculous. This week, U.S. Senator Al Franken apologized for a 2012 video which showed him "using orange traffic cones to mimic breasts." Yep, it's officially silly season.
I've resisted blogging about most of the ridiculousness of the campaign cycle this year, but I no longer can stop from commenting. So, please check back for a few posts over the coming days, for there is too much silly to fit in one post.
A group of top Republican attorneys sent a blistering memorandum to the leadership of the Republican Party of Minnesota this evening about the candidacy of Michelle MacDonald, the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court. The memo was the last in a series of public relations hits today against MacDonald's campaign.
MacDonald was banned from campaigning at the Republican Party of Minnesota's booth at the Minnesota State Fair, but she ignored the directive (see pictures) and visited the booth. MacDonald was eventually ordered by security guards to leave the booth, but not before promising to return tomorrow.
This afternoon Scott Newman, the Republican endorsed candidate for attorney general, endorsed MacDonald's opponent, incumbent Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug. This was followed up by the memo from Republican attorneys, who cited "MacDonald’s behavior today – where she intentionally created a public conflict and dispute at the RPM’s state fair booth" as a reason for the Republican Party of Minnesota to reconsider their support of her candidacy.
Below is the memorandum sent to the Republican Party of Minnesota's State Executive Committee. Today was only the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, so grab some cheese curds and watch this political drama unfold.
Texas Governor Rick Perry was booked Tuesday on felony charges of coercion and official oppression stemming from a threat to veto funding for a Texas public integrity unit, unless a local district attorney resigned from office after being convicted of drunk driving.
Very quickly after being booked, Perry's mugshot was flying around social media and the internet for all the world to see.
I spoke with Joseph Friedberg, one the premier criminal defense attorneys in Minnesota, about the visuals of a booking photo. I was curious if there was a science or design of how someone should appear in a booking photo that will likely be plastered across newspapers and television screens.
Perry's booking photo seemed rather bland, but I wanted to talk with an expert.
Friedberg was adamant that booking photos should not be made public, because there's a " suspicion that they may have done something wrong" and "because booking photos are public and they go viral and you can never get them back."
Friedberg added "there is no question in my mind that they shouldn't appear to be smiling, because there is nothing happy about being arrested." Friedberg concluded by saying "they shouldn't appear too mean, because it'll ruin their image, so they should just have as little expression as possible on their face."
By looking at Perry's booking photo, it seems like he received similar advice.
Picture source: Austin Police Department, Associated Press