Forget to floss? Miss your school bus? Kill someone? Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty will give you a "get out of jail free" card if you're under 25 years of age, contending that teens' brains aren't fully developed until age 25 and hence they shouldn't suffer the consequences of heinous actions ("Anger over leniency for teens in killing," front page, March 8). Blame me! I thought she was fully vetted by the DFL when I made the grave mistake of voting for her. Hennepin County residents will tragically pay the price if teenagers get a slap on the wrist rather than the significant sentences they deserve if they commit murder.
Mary Ellen Lundberg, Minneapolis
Hennepin County residents are now being treated to the "criminal justice reform" promised by Moriarty when she ran for county attorney last November. Two boys ages 15 and 17 allegedly entered the home of a 23-year-old mother of a 1-year-old child and shot her to death in cold blood. According to Moriarty, this heinous crime warranted no more than a slap on the wrist, two years in a juvenile facility. The assistant attorney who had been in charge of the case removed herself in protest. I applaud this heroic act.
If this vicious act did not warrant a charge of first-degree murder, what conduct would? Moriarty defends her decision on the grounds that, according to the article, "research on adolescent brain development … suggests a child's mind is not fully formed until age 25." Surely as an ex-public defender, having herself defended clients charged with violent crimes, Moriarty understands this defense will be available to defense counsel representing clients under the age of 25 who are charged with crimes of violence. It will be interesting to see how she handles those cases. I think it will be difficult for her office to deny its application in any future case involving a defendant under age 25.
Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
I was saddened — but not shocked — to read of Moriarty's decision to overrule her front-line prosecutor's decision to try the two teenagers as adults. The two allegedly shot the young woman multiple times at point-blank range after breaking into her apartment as a favor to her former boyfriend, who had been threatening her.
Now, if a new plea is approved, the two will serve minimal time in a juvenile facility in Red Wing. The victim's family is understandably and justifiably outraged, as am I and all other citizens who are concerned about violent crime committed by juveniles who know that the consequences are minimal and disproportionate to their violence.
Moriarty was essentially fired from her job as the chief public defender, sued and entered into a settlement in which she agreed never to apply for another position with Minnesota's public defense board. She cleverly ran for county attorney instead.
But there is hope. The Hennepin County bench is comprised of strong, intelligent, fair-minded jurists, and its large number of women add significantly to its strength and intelligence. I was a civil trial lawyer at a large downtown firm and tried cases in the 1970s, '80s, '90s, 2000s and 2010s. I saw firsthand the evolution of the Hennepin County bench. We can only hope that bench will act in the true interests of justice.
George Eck, Mound
Punish the actual thieves
It just seems to me that our focus too many times goes in the wrong direction! The attorney general wants to blame the car manufacturers for the rash of thefts ("Hyundai, Kia thefts too easy, AG says," front page, March 8). How about holding criminals accountable and making sure they are prosecuted? It seems to me that we are far too weak in this area. This is an adult crime, and all, including minors, should be treated that way. There is always someone else to blame rather than the perpetrators.
Lyle Arnold, Apple Valley
Mayor Melvin Carter, Mayor Jacob Frey, Attorney General Keith Ellison and others: I appreciate your service to the state of Minnesota. I really do. There was a time, however, when those committing bad deeds were held accountable for their actions.
It seems to me that your decisions relative to the alarming increase in thefts of vehicles are completely off-base. Instead of holding accountable the perpetrators of these crimes you've shifted your vengeance to the manufacturers of these vehicles, demanding recalls and ramped up "fixes."
My question to you and those in your administrations is this: What kind of message do you think you're sending to your constituents about these crimes? That the manufacturer is to shoulder the blame? That the only answer is to make it more difficult for these teenagers to steal vehicles? Think about that.
How about a stronger policy holding accountable those who steal vehicles? Or is that just not a thing anymore?
You can, and should, do far better than this.
Paul Kemble, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Not 'bias' to tell the truth
I read with some disbelief the letter "Credibility is not the point" (Readers Write, March 7) objecting to the editorial on Fox News' mendacity ("The disgraceful lies of Fox 'News,'" March 6). The letter writer calls Fox a "pro-right, pro-Christian media player." Having been raised Christian, I have to take objection to that characterization. What's "Christian" about promulgating known lies about public figures? Is there some exotic branch of Christianity where "bearing false witness" is considered a virtue? He goes on to say that Fox "serves a limited function by promoting a side of the issues that most other media outlets refuse to report on, because of their own political biases." So the other media outlets' policy of not spreading misinformation that everyone in the organization knows is false and often harmful is no longer basic journalistic integrity, but "political bias"? Former President Donald Trump made blatant, unsupportable lies fashionable in what was once the GOP, but that hardly obliges the rest of us to redefine false as true, and deliberate lies as equal to provable facts.
Steve Hoffmann, Anoka
The editorial "The disgraceful lies of Fox 'News'" (March 6) and subsequent letters in response don't collectively hit the nail on the head about the disgraceful lies about the election knowingly perpetuated and amplified by Fox. Truth matters in the media, period. Donald Trump and his fruity inner circle made up preposterous lies about the election. From there, Fox and others constructed a narrative that fed the biases of its audience with very destructive results.
Where truth — an agreed upon and shared reality — doesn't exist, there is no possibility of having a conversation, let alone a national democratic discussion about how to find the best course of action and what compromises might be reasonable. It's one thing for Fox or the media on the left to feed the bias of their audience with distinct narratives with shared truths; it's another to have the biases of their audience fed by a narrative based on a lie. The first might be political brawling or worse, serving to perpetuate old biases that ought to be dying, like racism and misogyny. But the latter, a narrative based on lies, is worse. This perpetuates old biases, is in this case very dangerous, has paralyzed our national conversation and is tearing our country and our democracy apart.
Media outlets must be held to account and base their reporting and political proselytizing on shared truths.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis