The Minneapolis city attorney’s office has filed a motion in Hennepin County District Court for a gag order to prevent attorneys from talking to the news media during the trial of Jordan Kushner, a Minneapolis lawyer.
Kushner is accused of interfering with a police officer during a demonstration and failing to leave a hall at the University of Minnesota Law School when asked to do so.
Mary Ellen Heng, deputy city attorney for the criminal division, said the motion was to preserve the integrity of the trial and would allow “no party or witness [to] make any statements outside the trial until the trial is completed.” Heng said it was “one of the motions routinely made in every trial.” When asked if it was made in most trials involving her office, she said she could not say.
Kushner was one of three people arrested Nov. 3 when protesters sympathetic to the Palestinian cause tried to shout down a pro-Israeli speaker. Kushner said he disagreed with shouting down the speaker, but was taking video of police interactions as an informal legal observer. Kushner often represents protesters in such incidents.
University police asked him to stop taking the video and he initially refused, and he also objected when ordered to leave. Police said he shouted. Kushner denies it and denies he resisted arrest. Kushner, who has represented other clients who have sued the city, says that he has been politically targeted and that he will oppose the gag order.
“They are not trying to shield the jury. They are trying to protect their image,” he said. “They don’t want exposure of this unjust and politically motivated prosecution.”
At a January court hearing, assistant city attorney Sarah Becker asked orally for a gag order, but Judge Marta Chou turned her down, saying she could file a written motion. The gag order is one of 18 city motions to be heard May 12. A trial is set for July 11.