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Criminal Law Section


Criminal Law Section Newsletter | November 2015

by Jennifer Carter | Nov 03, 2015

Next Council Meeting - November 4

The Criminal Law Section Council will meet on Wednesday, November 4, 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.

Criminal Law Section Member Mark Kappelhoff Honored by US Department of Justice

University of MN Professor Mark Kappelhoff recently received the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service from Attorney General Loretta Lynch. This award is the highest given by the Justice Department for employee performance and honors Kappelhoff for his instrumental role in the civil rights investigation of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. 

The award was presented to Kappelhoff and the teams responsible for conducting the high-profile civil rights investigations involving the Ferguson Police Department in the wake of the tragic shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson Police Department officer. In the face of intense public scrutiny, the teams conducted exhaustive investigations and produced two extensive public reports that found that the evidence did not support federal criminal charges, but determined that the Ferguson Police Department engages in unconstitutional and biased policing practices. 

Read more here:


Minnesota Lawyers visit Kosovo

A delegation of lawyers from the Minnesota Bar Association, among them Criminal Law Section member Rebecca Fisher, visited the Kosovo Bar Association from July 13-17, 2015 to establish a pilot mentorship program to provide technical support to the KBA. This exchange builds on a long-standing relationship between the ABA and the KBA.  The KBA took the lead in organizing the visit and set up meetings with chairs of regional bar chambers, experienced lawyers, members of the KBA, heads of KBA Committees, young lawyers and Civil Society Organizations active in advocacy issues and rule of law in the country. 

KBA members provided Minnesotan lawyers background on the composition of the bar, which includes seven regional branches, has 585 members and is a self-governing, self-financing and self-disciplining organization. Meetings were held to discuss key areas of concern for the Bar including bar specialization, lobbying on key issues, increasing the participation of women in the profession, the special court on war crimes and young lawyers. 

For more information about the delegation’s visit go to the ABA Rule of Law Initiative website at


Focus on Collateral Consequences

A recent issue of The Criminal Law Practitioner is wholly devoted to the issue of collateral consequences.  The issue contains a speech by ABA President William Hubbard on the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, as well as several articles written from various perspectives within the criminal justice system.  Two Minnesota authors also contributed to the issue: former Anoka County Attorney Robert Johnson and Criminal Law Section Chair Kelly Mitchell.  The full issue can be found online at


eFiling expanding across southern Minnesota in early November

In early November, 24 district courts across southern Minnesota will begin offering court users the ability to electronically file and serve court documents through an online portal.  The Minnesota Judicial Branch aims to make eFiling and eService available in all 87 district courts statewide by the end of 2015. 


Use of the eFiling and eService system to file court documents will become mandatory for attorneys, government agencies, guardians ad litem, and sheriffs in all district courts statewide on July 1, 2016. Use of the eFiling and eService system will remain voluntary for other filers, such as self-represented litigants.
The timeline for the statewide rollout of eFiling can be found at:

Mark your calendar with these upcoming dates:

Upcoming Criminal Law Section Council Meetings:

November 4, 2015

December 2, 2015

January 6, 2016

February 3, 2016

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