Remember the 800 or so protesters arrested in September at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul? The vast majority will keep their records clean.
What's more, the final protest, with 396 people arrested on the last night of the convention, has yet to yield a single charge.
Evidence against many juveniles and journalists was never reviewed by prosecutors. Authorities have declined to prosecute 323 people arrested that night, and only about 20 cases could still yield charges, St. Paul City Attorney John Choi said Friday.
Choi said, however, that the decision to decline or dismiss a criminal case does not mean police acted inappropriately or did not have probable cause to make an arrest.
"There was a lot of confusion for a lot of people that night. Ultimately, our decision reflects our prosecution standard, which is, 'Can we prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at trial?' " Choi said. "We've come to the conclusion that for the cases involving the Marion Street Bridge and the Cedar Street Bridge, that would not be the case."
Overall, the city attorney's office has reviewed about 670 convention-related cases and has brought charges in about 104 of them -- or about 15 percent. Choi broke down the numbers this way:
• 52 cases have been resolved by either a guilty plea or payment of a fine.
• Arrest warrants have been issued in 12 cases because the defendant failed to show up for his or her court date.
• 40 cases have been formally charged and are currently active in the court system.
• 67 cases are under investigation and are still being reviewed for possible charges.
• 442 cases have been declined or dismissed. That number includes the seven cases dismissed by Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch before they went to the jury.
• 48 cases have been dismissed for other reasons. That includes 39 journalists whose cases were dropped; two cases that were dropped because of federal prosecution; one person who was declared incompetent to stand trial; three juvenile cases and three cases dismissed because of duplication.
The misdemeanor and gross-misdemeanor cases included unlawful assembly and presence at an unlawful assembly, third-degree riot, false information to police, obstructing legal process and others.
Choi said the city of St. Paul has not been served with any lawsuits in connection with the convention. One person has filed notice of his intent to sue, he said.
Of the 75 cases presented to the county attorney's office for possible felony charges, 53 cases were declined and 22 were charged.
Seventeen cases are pending trial; two defendants have pleaded guilty and three have been dismissed by prosecutors.
Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992