Ivy Bernhardson is the Chief Judge of the Hennepin County District Court. She has co-signed the trial conduct orders in the Mohamed Noor murder case with trial judge Kathryn Quaintance. Here, for example, is the court’s second amended order on conduct at trial (governing press access and other issues).
Yesterday morning I published my published my message to Judge Bernhardson briefly summarizing my issues seeking one of the assigned seats for the press covering the Noor trial and pleading for her attention. I had sent the message about 2:30 Monday afternoon.
At 5:00 yesterday afternoon, a little over two days later, Judge Bernhardson called me back. She apologized for her lateness getting back to me. At this point, however, I was both surprised and happy to hear from her. I told her I understood she had been busy.
She then explained that she had wanted to take the time to check the points I made in my message with the named Hennepin County official. She had now done so. She had also checked my points against the court’s Noor trial page. She had now verified each of my points. She apologized for my experience as well.
She was unhappy that the court’s trial page did not in fact include any stated procedure about how to apply for reserved media seats. This did not comport with the terms of her trial conduct orders. She said that in the future she would review new additions to the court’s trial page before they were posted. The court’s trial page has now been updated to address press access.
Judge Bernhardson didn’t offer me one of the assigned press seats, but she told me that the overflow courtroom had more than enough room to assure me a seat. She also noted that seats had so far became available in the trial courtroom in the afternoon; I should check there as well if I wanted to see the proceedings first-hand. She concluded by advising me that the parties were still picking a jury (so I hadn’t missed much yet).
I thanked Judge Bernhardson for calling me and confirming my complaint. Indeed, I am grateful for her candor. I will be off to see the proceedings this morning.