MN Wild


Criminal Law Section


Criminal Law Section Newsletter | February 2016

by Jennifer Carter | Feb 08, 2016

Next Council Meeting – February 10, 2016

The Criminal Law Section Council will meet on Wednesday, February 10, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. at the MSBA Office in Minneapolis. All section members are welcome and invited to join us!  Our special guest will be Nate Reitz, Executive Director of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. Please contact Jennifer Carter at if you plan to attend.

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 five 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.  In December, the task force heard about efforts to reduce recidivism within the context of probation and supervised release.  And in January, the task force learned more about effectiveness of current programming offered to prisoners while they are incarcerated in reducing recidivism rates.  In February, the task force will consider suggestions for change that could potentially be taken up during the legislative session.

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:


CLE Opportunity - The 'Serial' Effect: How True Crime Documentaries Affect Minnesota's Justice System

Wednesday, February 17, 2016   4:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Venue: Galaxy Room / Windows on Minnesota       

Has the explosion of true crime documentaries like "Serial" and "Making a Murderer" had an impact on the day-to-day justice system in Minnesota? Are defendants more likely to make post-conviction motions? Are jurors more skeptical about evidence against defendants? How can attorneys and judges maintain excellent practice in the face of these challenges? Find out from an expert panel:  a judge, a prosecutor, and two certified specialist criminal defense attorneys.

Please join us after the discussion for cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres.



The Honorable Kevin S. Burke, MN Fourth Judicial District 
Laura M. Provinzino, Assistant United States Attorney  
Joseph S. Friedberg, Joseph S. Friedberg, Chartered 


Andrew S. Birrell, Gaskins, Bennett, Birrell, Schupp

CLE Credits:

1.0 Standard CLE Credits approved | Event Code: 215760   


Criminal Law Section Member: $15.00
Criminal Law Certified Specialists: $15.00  
MSBA Member not in the Section: $20.00 
Non-MSBA Member: $25.00 
Law Student: $10.00

Remote Participation: 

There is no remote participation available for this event.  

Deadline to Register: February 15, 2016

Mark your calendar with these upcoming dates:


Upcoming Criminal Law Section Council Meetings:

February 10, 2016
March 2, 2016
April 6, 2016
May 4, 2016


Upcoming CLE:

The 'Serial' Effect: How True Crime Documentaries Affect Minnesota's Justice System

February 17, 2016  
4:30 pm – 7:00 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