The prosecutors for former officer Derek Chauvin's trial are desperately trying to charge third-degree murder because they cannot prove the top charge ("Chauvin, Noor appeals intersect," March 2). Prosecutors obviously do not think they can convict Chauvin on second-degree murder and think manslaughter would be politically unacceptable. Thus their desperate attempt to reinstitute the third-degree murder charge, especially since Chauvin was reported to have agreed to plead to that crime and willing to do 10 years but was turned down.
My, aren't politically charged trials messy.
Edward Stegman, Hastings
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In a March 2 article regarding the Chauvin prosecution, the reporters addressed the question whether a third-degree murder charge is appropriate in this case. The reporters quote a portion of the statute regarding depraved mind. In the same paragraph they note the statute is "commonly used to charge drug dealers in overdose deaths."
What the reporters failed to note is that the third-degree murder statute contains an entirely separate and independent provision that specifically addresses overdose cases. It prohibits proximately causing the death of another "without intent" to cause death if the actor provides the drugs causing the death. It is very misleading to your readers to compare the drug cases to the depraved mind cases, as they address entirely different conduct.
Alan Harris, Eagan
The writer is a retired attorney.
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When it comes to Chauvin's trial, the protesters, the "fortifiers" and the "traumatizers" are all wrong. The protesters are claiming their First Amendment rights are being denied with the fortifications being set up in downtown. The city's "fortifiers" suggest that safety and protection of property should be the primary focus. And the "traumatizers" — those City Council members who can't stop talking about how traumatized we all are — say the enterprise's concern should be on healing. No, no and no. They're all wrong.
When the state puts someone on trial, threatening to take away that person's liberty, the prime directive should be a fair trial. If your free speech rights, if your fears of social unrest, if your distress about traumatization and re-traumatization creates an environment not conducive to a free trial, those rights, those fears and that distress should be put aside.
That's why the barriers, the fences and the concertina wire downtown are troubling. Not because protesting sites might be curtailed, not because some elected officials think it's going to traumatize us, but because it could have an effect on judicial fairness, in particular on the jurors. What are they to think of the defendant when they see how dangerous this trial is? What are they to think of their verdict when they are so visibly told the effect it might have?
The protesters, fortifiers and traumatizers have all missed the boat. Trials are about fairness, and fairness is almost impossible in the security atmosphere that has been constructed in downtown Minneapolis.
Chuck Turchick, Minneapolis
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Regarding "Mpls. leaders say show of force might backfire" (front page, March 2): "Mpls. leaders" is a bad headline choice! "City Council" or "council members" would be the factually accurate choice. As Paul Ostrow astutely observes ("City needs reformers, not performers," Opinion Exchange, March 1), the council is often engaged in performance art (often clownish), not leadership or problem-solving. And this article provides another example: What are the members quoted actually doing to make the city safe for all during the upcoming trial? They are no longer just activists pointing out problems: They are elected officials whose job it is to solve the problems. Instead they seem to be stoking the fires by giving protesters advance justification for violence.
George Muellner, Plymouth
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In a March 2 article, City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said, about safety plans for the trial: "I feel like I haven't really heard ... a plan that affirms the kind of trauma that happened this past summer, and not just from the four officers who killed George Floyd." I am really sick of reading comments and opinions like these in this paper. And in articles using inflammatory words like "killer," "killed," etc. Of all people, someone whose dad is the attorney general and who is on the Minneapolis City Council should know better. Did I miss the trial? Isn't our judicial system founded on "innocent until proven guilty"? What happened to the word "alleged"? When we start going down the road of trying and judging people in the media before the trial, we sway public opinion and minimize the chances of an impartial jury. After all, if we read it enough times in the award-winning Star Tribune or hear it enough on the radio, it must be true. Maybe Chauvin and the rest are guilty, but that's up to the jury to decide.
Lloyd R. Keller, Circle Pines
TEACHERS OF COLOR
Incentivize and encourage
Finally the elephant in the room is being discussed ("New push for teachers of color in Minnesota," front page, March 2). Teachers like Shad Williams, who is experienced, qualified, creative in his lessons (teaching sign language) and loves working with kids, have a huge impact on their students. Not just academically but as a role model for life.
Being a retired teacher (after 38 years) I can attest to the fact I went into teaching because I wanted to work with kids through teaching/coaching. My high school social studies teacher, also our basketball/track coach, was a big influence in my career decision.
We have always needed more people of color in our educational systems across the country, not just in Minnesota. Especially male teachers of color, but also male teachers of all persuasions.
Every state, including Minnesota, is facing a huge teacher shortage in the coming years. Now is the time to be a role model for the nation. Create incentives for our best and brightest: people who are qualified and have enthusiasm and a personality that can relate to kids. That will start with better beginning salaries and financial incentives to stay, loan forgiveness if you teach in your home state for a minimum of five years and keeping the retirement program strong.
David Katzenmeyer, Apple Valley
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Two articles caught my attention in Tuesday's paper. The first titled, "New push for teachers of color in Minnesota" highlighted an effort to increase the hiring of Black male teachers in Minnesota schools. The second, titled "Villaume settles in gender-bias probe," described how a Minnesota company was fined $90,000 for not hiring women. A reasonable conclusion would be that discriminatory hiring practices are acceptable in some circumstances but not in others. What happened to just hiring the most qualified candidate regardless of their race, color, creed or gender? In this world of wokeness, common sense is completely lost.
Kelly Blair, Anoka
In my mom's case, lifesaving
I wanted to comment on the article about Scott Smith getting an award from the Minnesota Trucking Association ("Roseville trucker's driving reign," March 2). It brought back a memory very dear to me. A semitrailer truck saved my mom back in the '70s or '80s when she was driving from Grand Forks to Fargo on Interstate 29 during a terrible blizzard. The driver slowed down and guided her into Fargo, where she got a hotel and slept for 10 straight hours. She said she knew she couldn't have made it without his patience. Anyone who has driven in infamous North Dakota blizzards knows how disorienting it is.
When I see big trucks on the highway I always think of them as big protectors of the road due to their patience, higher perspective and experienced driving. I have always wanted to thank the trucking community for helping and putting up with us as we drive. Thank you for all you do!
Elise MacKenzie, Fridley
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