MN Wild


Criminal Law Section


Criminal Law Section Newsletter | October 2015

by Jennifer Carter | Oct 05, 2015

Next Council Meeting on October 7

The Criminal Law Section Council will meet on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. at the MSBA Office in Minneapolis. All section members are welcome and invited to join us!  Please contact Jennifer Carter at if you plan to attend.

Cameras in the Courtroom Pilot Project To Begin in November
Effective November 10, 2015, electronic coverage of district court proceedings after a guilty verdict has been returned or a guilty plea has been accepted will be permitted with the following exceptions:

  • No electronic coverage is permitted of any proceeding held with a jury present.
  • No coverage is permitted in any proceeding held in Minnesota's problemĀ­ solving courts, including drug courts, mental health courts, veterans courts, and DWI courts.
  • No coverage is permitted in cases involving crimes of criminal sexual conduct and/or family or domestic violence.
  • No coverage of any testifying victim is permitted unless that victim, before testifying, affirmatively acknowledges and agrees in writing to the proposed coverage.

In all other instances, the presiding judge may for good cause limit or exclude media requests for electronic courtroom coverage based on the privacy and safety concerns of the participants to the proceedings or other interested persons, the decorum and dignity of the proceedings, the physical court facilities, and the impartial administration of justice.

On or before January 1, 2018, the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure shall file a status report on the pilot project, with recommendations for any further rule amendments, recommendations for continuation, abandonment, or modification of the pilot project, or for permanent codification of the rules for the pilot project.

For more information go to the MN Judicial Branch Media Contacts page at: 

The Supreme Court order is available here:


Opportunity to Assist with Clemency Project 2014

The ABA Criminal Justice Section has partnered with the ACLU, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Federal Defenders, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to create Clemency Project 2014, an initiative to provide pro bono representation to incarcerated people in the Federal Penal System seeking sentence commutation--executive clemency--under the DOJ's New Clemency Initiative.

While President Obama remains in office, the DOJ will prioritize clemency applications from inmates who meet all of the following factors:

  1. They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
  2. They are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels;
  3. They have served at least 10 years of their prison sentence;
  4. They do not have a significant criminal history;
  5. They have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
  6. They have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.

Clemency Project 2014 is still seeking volunteer lawyers to assist in reviewing these cases, so the MSBA Criminal Justice Section is working to raise awareness of the project among its members.  Clemency Project 2014 has prepared a 2-hour training and streamlined process that identifies and acquires most of the documents that volunteers will need to review a case.  In total, it takes on average between 25-30 attorney-hours from receiving a case to preparing that case for clemency petition.  Volunteers need not be criminal lawyers to participate in the project, so please feel free to disseminate this notice widely.

If you are interested in volunteering, please visit the Clemency Project 2014 website:  You may also contact Jonathan Gitlen at, an attorney leading the Criminal Justice Section's Clemency Representation Project, for any questions you might have.


Upcoming CLEs


Hot Topics and Practical Do’s and Don’ts relating to Minnesota’s Forfeiture Law

Date:   Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Time:   3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Place:  Minnesota State Bar Association          

Deadline to Register: October 19, 2015

Please join the Criminal Law Section for a CLE on Minnesota's Forfeiture laws.  Topics to be covered:

1.  Minnesota Current Forfeiture Law and how to contest a forfeiture, deadlines, and paperwork that is required to get a hearing under M.S. 169A.63

2.  Relevant recent case law including:  Garcia Mendoza v. 2003 Tahoe, Laase v. 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, and Nielson v. 2003 Honda

3.  Possible future judicial initiatives and legislative proposals relating to forfeiture law in Minnesota as seen by 3 experienced practitioners.  



Lee McGrath, Institute for Justice
Richard Ohlenberg, Ohlenberg Law Office, P.C., St. Louis Park
Gary Strootman , Strootman Law Office, Minneapolis, MN

CLE Credits:   2.0 Standard CLE Credits applied for

Event Code: 210456 



Criminal Law Section Member: $10.00 
MSBA Member not in the Section: $15.00 
Non-MSBA Member: $20.00 
Law Student: $0.00

Remote Participation: Teleconferencing and webcasting are available. Please indicate this option when registering. Instructions will be emailed to you the week day prior to the CLE. 

To register with a check, please mail in this registration form
Need to cancel? Please see our cancellation policy

Questions? Contact  Jennifer Carter at 612-278-6309


Mark your calendar with these upcoming dates:

Criminal Law Section Council Meetings

October 7, 2015
November 4, 2015
December 2, 2015


Upcoming Section CLEs

MN Forfeiture Dos and Don’ts

October 21, 2015
MSBA Office

Section Council Officers

Kelly Mitchell, Chair

Richard Ohlenberg, Vice Chair

Max Keller, Treasurer

Joe Van Thomme, Secretary 

Jennifer Carter, MSBA Staff

Annual Report


MSBA Criminal Law Section
Annual Report

Section Membership
As of May 23, 2017, the Section has 675 members. 

Financial Status
The Section had an account balance of $11,467.05 as of May 23, 2017.

CLEs & Events
The Section hosted 5 CLE programs in fiscal year 2016-17.  

Program Title


Event Code

CLE Credits

Number of Attendees

Mistaken Eye-Witness Identification, A Tough Problem with Easy Solutions



1.0 Standard


Intersection of Chemical Dependency and Criminal Law



2.0 Standard


Crimmigration: Recent Trends (co-sponsored with Immigration)



2.0 Standard


Criminal Law 2017 Legislative Preview – What’s Coming Up



1.5 Standard


Everything BUT the Trial School



3.25 Standard


Criminal Law Trial School



4.75 Standard


Annual Meeting and Election Results
The Section’s Annual Meeting was held on May 3, 2017 and 10 people attended. 

The following council members were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018: 

Dan Adkins
Landon Ascheman
Paul Baertschi
Camille Bryant
Alex De Marco
Barry Edwards
Rebecca Rhoda Fisher
James Gempeler
Dan Koewler
Brad Johnson
Kelly Martinez
Chad Miller
Kelly Mitchell
Rich Ohlenberg
Alina Schwartz
Gary W. Strootman
Aaron Welch
Thomas Wilson
Robin Wolpert

The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. 

             Chair:  Max Keller
             Vice Chair:  Joe Van Thomme
             Treasurer:  Anthony Bushnell
             Secretary:  Andrea Palumbo 

Diversity and Inclusion
What diversity and inclusion goals did the Section include in the 2016-2017 work plan, how did you approach these goals, and what was the result?

This is a complex issue as: there are many types of diversity such as: male/female, rural/urban, prosecutor/defense attorney, younger v. older attorneys, as well as participation by members of minority communities and people of color. Of course, participation in the MSBA’s Criminal Law Section is an entirely voluntary activity in Minnesota and is quite time consuming when added to all the other personal and professional responsibilities we have as attorneys.  So, not every attorney wants to or can find the time to participate even if that want to do so. 

At the start of the year, we decided to pursue an informal strategy of trying to recruit and involve more attorneys of color, and more prosecutors in our group.  At the Trial School held at the end of the year (May 4, 2017) which was our capstone event for the 2016-17 year, we had a wide of participants in the seminar including younger attorneys, female attorneys, attorneys from more rural counties and attorneys of color. So, I was very encouraged by the success of the trial school this year and by the diversity of the participants.    

Other Section Accomplishments

Along with the DWI Task Force, the Criminal Law Section spearheaded the changes that were proposed and passed into law by the Minnesota Legislature requiring that warrants obtained in blood and urine test cases. This resulting new DWI statute which is set to go into effect on July 1, 2017 reflects recent Supreme Court caselaw and brings the Minnesota DWI statute into compliance with that new caselaw.  Due to time constraints, we took a “Section Only” position in favor of passing the bill.  Members of the Section working in conjunction with the MSBA lobbyist, Bryan Lake, and with numerous other stakeholders, played a key role in getting the bill enacted into law. 

The new law also extends the time-period for filing a challenge to an alcohol related license revocation from 30 to 60 days and allows for a prescription drug defense at the implied consent driver’s license hearing. These changes to the law are new additions to Minnesota’s DWI law which have discussed for many years, but were never before enacted into law.  

In addition to the points made above about the diversity of the presenters at the two final 2016-17 seminars, in the Everything BUT Trial School and the final Trial School, I was very pleased that this year we used one set of facts for both seminars.  I believe this provided attendees with the most realistic Trial School exercise that we have ever hosted.  The case that we used was a DWI physical control case and is the type of case that attorneys practicing in the criminal law area are routinely required to take to jury trial within their first 2-3 years of practice and on throughout their careers.   

We had some excellent presenters and the Trial School had a very realistic feel to it.  I was also very pleased that some of the younger members, specifically Joseph Van Thomme, stepped up and did much of the organization, scheduling and cajoling to get the various presenters to show up and participate in the Trial School.  This shows that the Section has a broad base of active members which bodes well for the future of the Criminal Law Section. 

Respectfully Submitted By:

Richard Ohlenberg, Section Chair 2016-17