MN Wild


Criminal Law Section


Criminal Law Section Newsletter | January 2016

by Jennifer Carter | Jan 11, 2016

The Criminal Law Section Council will meet on Wednesday, January 6, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. at the MSBA Office in Minneapolis. Our special guest will be Retired Judge Robert Small, the Executive Director of the County Attorney Association.   He will talk about his background as a judge, his job with the CAA, and how he likes his new role, along with what issues the CAA is now involved with, and what’s ahead for the upcoming legislative term.  

All section members are welcome and invited to join us! 

Please contact Jennifer Carter at if you plan to attend.

eFiling now available in all 87 Minnesota district courts

Electronic filing and service of court documents is now available in all 87 district courts in Minnesota. Electronic filing is also available in the state’s appellate courts.

In the 76 non-pilot courts, use of eFiling and eService is optional for all filers through June 30, 2016. This means filers will still be able to file documents using the traditional, paper-based method.

Under recent amendments to Minnesota’s court rules, use of the eFiling and eService system will become mandatory for attorneys, government agencies, guardians ad litem, and sheriffs in all district courts statewide on July 1, 2016.  Note:  eFiling and eService system will remain optional for other filers, such as self-represented litigants.

2016 Legislative Preview - What's Coming Up

January 14, 2016         4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Sweeney’s Oak Room, 96 Dale Street North, St Paul, MN 55102

Join our state legislators at this informal presentation to discuss what they think the pressing issues of the next legislative session will be.  We will have Senators and Representatives from both parties speaking.   Next session will be a short session, and it is already looking like it will be very eventful, so this is a great chance to get a preview of what will be the issues to watch.  

Please join us after the presentation for more discussion, drinks and complimentary appetizers!

CLE Credits:  1.0 Standard CLE Credits applied

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

There is no remote participation for this event. 

Deadline to Register: January 12, 2016 

Prison Population Task Force 

In early fall, the Legislature established the Prison Population Control Task Force to respond to concerns about prison overcrowding. At the first meeting in September, Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy explained that the state's prison population currently exceeds capacity.  The DOC is leasing about 500 beds in county jails, and the DOC projects that the population will exceed capacity by over 1000 inmates within 7 years. 

The task force has met a total of four times and has heard informational presentations on multiple issues that impact the population.  In September, the task force received a broad overview of the capacity problem.  In October, the task force was asked to consider the option of having the state lease a private prison facility located in Appleton that has been closed for several years.  In November, the task force received an extensive presentation on the impact of drug sentencing policy.  And in December, the task force heard about efforts to reduce recidivism within the context of probation and supervised release.  

To read more about each of these meetings, click on this link to a recent story by the House Information Office and follow the links within the story and at the bottom of the story:

Mark your calendar with these upcoming dates:

Upcoming Criminal Law Section Council Meetings:

January 6, 2016

February 3, 2016

March 2, 2016 (at the Everything butthe Trial School Seminar)

April 6. 2016

CLE - 2016 Legislative Preview

January 14

Sweeney’s Oak Room, St. Paul

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

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