The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor’s conviction for third-degree murder in the case of Justine Ruszczyk or Justine Damond as I referred to her in my reporting. The reversal came in a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. It is a good opinion that persuades me on an issue I have changed my mind about a few times. The Court’s ruling leaves Noor’s second-degree manslaughter conviction undisturbed, but he will need to be resentenced on that conviction alone. I have embedded the Court’s opinion below. Right or wrong, the Court is the last word on the issue of statutory construction presented.
I think that the Court’s opinion in the Noor case should also result in the reversal of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction of third-degree murder in the George Floyd case. I wrote about this repeatedly in my reporting and commentary on the Chauvin trial. Chauvin, however, still has to contend with his second-degree murder and manslaughter convictions, and the reversal of the third-degree charge alone would not affect his sentence. The Court’s ruling in the Noor case nevertheless vindicates Chauvin trial judge Peter Cahill’s pretrial dismissal of the third-degree murder charge, which was reinstated at trial on the order of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.