At the Noor trial (3)

The lawyers have completed voir dire and jury selection in the trial of Mohamed Noor. Judge Kathryn Quaintance is seating a panel of 16 jurors (four are alternates). She excused the parties and jurors following the completion of jury selection this morning. The trial resumes with opening statements tomorrow morning.

Minnesota’s foremost organ of liberal opinion — I’m talking about the Star Tribune, of course — wants you to know that the jury consists of 12 men and four women, that six are people of color, and that four of them are immigrants (“[o]ne woman immigrated from Pakistan, one man immigrated from Ethiopia and two men moved to the United States from the Philippines”).

MPR reporter Jon Collins adds that the jury includes a “night manager at a grocery store, Mpls firefighter, railroad engineer, carpenter who writes on the side, ob/gyn, middle school librarian, immigration officer for Homeland Security, electric [f]oreman, investment consultant & retired computer analyst.”

I want you to know that this is a very Minneapolis jury, heavily weighted with true believers in the diversity mantra. Despite all the talk of “implicit bias” and all the rest in the organs of liberal opinion such as the Star Tribune, I think that Noor’s minority status will be an advantage to him in the defense of the case.

With time unexpectedly on my hands this afternoon, I want to add a few personal notes:

I have not yet heard from the court in response to my request to have the empty New York Times seat reassigned to me. Under the applicable court order, all reserved media seats that go unused for three days are to be reassigned. The reserved Times seat went unused all last week. It would be a substantial understatement to say that I am waiting impatiently to hear from the court.

At the 2016 trial of the “Minnesota men” in federal court before Judge Davis, the New York Times reporter failed to show up until the day the jury delivered its verdict. I read his story on the trial in the Times the following day. Knowing that he hadn’t been around a single day during the trial proceedings, I wrote him to ask where he had been. He responded: “Did I get something wrong?” He did pretty well for a guy who hadn’t seen anything.

This morning I heard from a Minnesota attorney and friend whom I greatly respect. He wrote to criticize my comments on Judge Quaintance’s order barring the public from seeing part of the bodycam video that will be admitted into evidence at trial tomorrow or the day after. According to Judge Quaintance, this evidence is “crucial” to the case. Indeed, I take it that the evidence will be admitted without objection.

Judge Quaintance has yet to issue a formal written order on this issue. A formal written order is in the works. I happen to know the law clerk who is working on it, I think. He is an old colleague from my days in private practice. I saw him taking notes furiously during the hearing. Assuming Judge Quaintance hasn’t changed her mind, the order may persuade me that I am mistaken in my understanding of how the law applies here.

From the bench on Friday afternoon, however, Judge Quaintance improvised a variety of rationales in a sort of stream of consciousness that I found unimpressive. By my lights her comments presented little more than observations in search of an argument.

The law that bears on this issue — this is constitutional law, not to be taken lightly — is set forth at pages 3-10 of the Media Coalition’s memorandum of law. See in particular the four-part test set forth at page 7 of the memo.

Judge Quaintance has barred the evidence from the public on her own motion. No party has moved for this order.

My attorney friend harshly chided me for my insensitivity to the privacy interests at stake. I think I am aware of them, but they go only so far. Among other things, I regret to say, Justine Ruszcyk (known as Justine Damond) is dead. I am highly sensitive to that. Justine’s family has some privacy interest in the evidence, to be sure, but whatever privacy interests obtain here must be attenuated in a criminal case arising from Justine’s killing.

One more note. I found Judge Quaintance’s behavior at the motion hearing to be unprofessional. She repeatedly made faces as the attorney representing the Media Coalition argued in support of her motion and responded to the judge’s comments. I take it that’s just how this judge rolls.

I am nevertheless offended by that as well as by what I view as the judge’s assertion of power beyond the bounds of her authority. If I am mistaken, however, and if I am persuaded by the written order she has yet to issue, I will acknowledge my mistake in a subsequent installment of this series.

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