Questions for Keith Ellison

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s new memoir– Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence — received glowing press in the days following its publication on May 23. The Star Tribune, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR all lent a hand in the public relations for the book.

Asking around among publishing sources, I am advised that Ellison’s book sold 410 copies in the first week after its publication on May 23. I am further advised that this “isn’t terrible actually for this sort of thing.”

Well, that’s too bad. It’s not a good book. Its theme is false and destructive.

Ellison’s deputy chief of staff and spokesman is John Stiles. Stiles handles media inquiries for Ellison. I sent two questions by email to Stiles yesterday. I asked how big an advance Ellison got on the book and whether he has committed to contribute the royalties to any charitable organizations. Stiles had no comment.

I also asked Stiles about the book’s quotation of United States District Judge Patrick Schiltz from a sealed transcript in the Blue Grand Jury investigation. Judge Schiltz was investigating the illegal leaks of grand jury information in the Chauvin case to the New York Times and the Star Tribune. He thought the leaks must have come from the state or federal prosecutors or members of their team with access to the leaked information.

Insofar as is relevant here, everything in the Blue Grand Jury investigation was sealed. Ellison nevertheless quotes Judge Schiltz at page 96 speaking at a hearing in the investigation. I separately wrote Stiles to ask how it is that Ellison thought he was free to quote from what must be a sealed court transcript. My email to Stiles is below. Stiles had no comment.

Dear Mr. Stiles: Following up on my email this morning, I have one more question for you on Attorney General Ellison’s new memoir. At page 96 Mr. Ellison quotes Judge Patrick Schiltz speaking in court in the Blue Grand Jury investigation. Mr. Ellison states that “a court reporter captured Judge Schiltz’s words” and is critical of Judge Schiltz’s comments. I closely followed the Blue Grand Jury investigation and believe that the only transcript in the matter is under seal (Doc. No. 11). I have confirmed this with Judge Schiltz’s chambers. I include a screenshot of the docket per the [Electronic Court Filing system] below.

Will you please correct me if I am mistaken regarding the sealed status of the transcript from which Mr. Ellison quotes and, if it is sealed, let me know on what basis Mr. Ellison has quoted from it?

I seek a response by the close of business today. If you need additional time to respond, please let me know.

Thank you for your courtesies and consideration.

Scott Johnson
St. Paul

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