The city of Minneapolis sits in Hennepin County and presents the biggest law enforcement challenge in the state of Minnesota. The Hennepin County Attorney prosecutes the huge volume of criminal cases that make their way through the court system, many of which are high profile and high stakes cases involving crimes of violence committed by members of the racial and ethnic gangs that have taken over significant swatches of the city.
The current Hennepin County Attorney is Amy Klobuchar, the daughter of a former Minneapolis newspaper columnist who was a local institution. I appeared in court in a case against her when Klobuchar was a first-year attorney at a large Minneapolis law firm. When Klobuchar identified herself for the record, the judge’s court reporter asked if she would spell her name for him; the judge exploded at the court reporter, “Good God, man, don’t you read the newspaper?”
When she first ran for office five years ago, she was a relatively young and inexperienced attorney. She lacked any substantial background in criminal law or administration; if I am not mistaken, she had only prosecuted a few cases through her firm’s training program with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s office. Rocket Man and I both supported Klobuchar’s opponent, who is a vastly experienced and able attorney. Klobuchar ran a good campaign, but it was one whose greatest strength was undoubtedly her surname.
Klobuchar has proved to be an excellent County Attorney. She has vigorously supported the prosecution and incarceration of the gangbangers without the slightest public display of hesitation, handwringing, or apology. Although the competition is not stiff, she is the best Hennepin County Attorney of the past 30 years. Today’s Star Tribune has a good profile of her: “Amy Klobuchar talks about life, politics, and family.”
The article mentions Klobuchar’s husband, John Bessler. Bessler is also an attorney. I have known him since his first year in private practice, when he was an associate attorney at the Minneapolis firm where Rocket Man and I were partners. Both Bessler and I have since moved on, but he has continued a successful career in private practice. He is at least as interesting a person as Klobuchar is.
While continuing to practice law, Bessler has written two books (both published by Northeastern University Press) manifesting his opposition to the death penalty. John has a third book scheduled for publication by the University of Minnesota Press this fall on hangings and lynchings, one chapter of which is devoted to a story close to the heart of both Rocket Man and me — the story of the Sioux uprising of 1862 in southern Minnesota. The Sioux uprising resulted in the single largest set of hangings as well as the largest number of commutations in American history. We will return to the subject of the Sioux uprising when Bessler’s book is published, but we’re pretty sure that Bessler correctly identifies the hero of that story — Abraham Lincoln.
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