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The article published last week about the rape case Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct repeatedly refers to the allegations as true and the complaining witness as a "victim" ("Teen betrayed by rape case lie," Jan. 22).

I am a criminal defense attorney. I represent people charged with crimes. When cases go to trial, one of my standard "motions in limine" (pretrial motions) is that the prosecution can't refer to the alleged victim as "the victim." I argue that if they're going to refer to the alleged victim as "the victim," they might as well just call my client "the criminal" or "the guilty person." I've never lost that motion. And, in fact, the judge always gives an instruction (twice, actually) reminding the jury that the defendant is innocent until they (the jurors) decide he is guilty. I often ask in jury selection, "You've heard the charges; if you had to vote right now how many of you would vote 'not guilty'"? Usually no hands go up, and when I ask why, they say, "Well, we haven't heard evidence yet." That's my cue to remind them that under the American system of jurisprudence, presumption of innocence and all, that means that at that moment, my client is "not guilty." Not guilty until the state proves guilt.

The reporter's article on the case assumes throughout that the complainant is a victim (and by corollary, that the defendant is guilty). The reporter's data from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network suggesting that rape cases, in particular, seldom go to trial, needs context. In the U.S., roughly 5% of all criminal cases go to trial. If 13% of rape cases go to trial, as the RAINN data say, that would be a lot.

The Constitution is not a technicality. Marco Tulio Rivera Enamorado was never convicted. He is presumed innocent. Neither the Star Tribune nor the government get to convict someone. In America, only a jury can do that.

Barry S. Edwards, Minneapolis


Social ills can't be fixed on the train

I totally agree with Nick Magrino on his one-point plan to clean up Metro Transit ("A one-point plan to fight transit crime," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 24). Homelessness, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, gun violence, etc., are all complex challenges. But we do not need them to drag down what could be an excellent mass transit system. Arrest the people who break the law on trains and buses and at stations! It is as simple as that!

What to do with them after they are arrested might need a 40-point plan. I advocate compassion and getting them the help they need, which takes money. But turning Metro Transit into a homeless shelter costs us, too, by driving away paying riders. We know how to clean up transit, so let's do it! We can work on the social problems later.

Lois Braun, Falcon Heights


Finally, a well-reasoned, perfectly stated plea to city, county and transit leaders. I echo Magrino's words and examples and offer my own from a recent afternoon:

Riding the Green Line from the University of Minnesota to downtown and the Blue Line south to my stop, I witnessed 1) screaming solicitation (at me because I wouldn't take his pamphlet), 2) public urination (someone stepped off the train at U.S. Bank Stadium, then stepped back on once finished) and 3) two instances of crack-smoking, including one in which I could have rubbed elbows with both the smoker and the guy holding the match.

I texted all of these to Metro Transit and got excellent responses — but after-the-fact responses are not the answer. When are officials going to step up on prevention? Enough is enough. Until I read there is more enforcement present on all trains at all times (I've been on nine trains the past two weeks, and only once was enforcement present) I will pay more to "commute and pollute" and stay off Metro Transit going forward.

Howie Smith, Minneapolis


Terminally ill people need options

I was heartbroken to read Tara Guy's piece "Bodily autonomy should apply at life's end, too" (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 25), about the loss of her wonderful friend Doris. Woefully, this story is familiar to me and my loved ones. After being diagnosed with an advanced brain tumor in June of 2020, my beloved husband Brad decided not to pursue the grueling recommended treatment. One day that December, while I was out running errands, Brad called 911 to report a body in our backyard. He then went outside and shot himself with his hunting rifle. It was an excruciating loss, and I know that it could have been different.

In the wake of Brad's suicide, I became an advocate for medical aid in dying here in Minnesota. In Oregon and nine other states, terminally ill adults of sound mind have the option to request a prescription from their doctor, which they can self-ingest in order to die peacefully in their sleep.

Like Doris, Brad saw no other option. No relief from the pain, no treatment that would give him back what was being taken by the cancer. Terminally ill people should not have to resort to desperate measures. If we had medical aid in dying available here in Minnesota, it would save loved ones from the kind of pain that Tara and I understand all too well.

Becki Sinks, St. Paul


My mother had progressive supranuclear palsy. It first robbed her of her ability to emote, then walk, then feed and toilet herself, and eventually to speak. In a freak accident with a lift chair, she broke her hip. To alleviate pain, her hip was pinned. As a result of the surgery, she did a stint in a nursing home to "rehab." The day it was determined she could go home, she stopped eating and taking fluids.

I am positive she decided she no longer wanted to be a burden to my father and to the rest of us who loved her so dearly. It took two days for her to pass. Two excruciating days. But in truth, she was suffering for years with this disease — with no possibility for a cure or any improvement. Just a long, steady, relentlessly brutal decline. The loss of self control. The loss of self-expression. Each loss of function punctuating the dimming of a light that shined brighter in her the any other person I have ever known. The worst loss of all being the loss of dignity as it relates to making one's own choices. The author Laura Hillenbrand wrote this: "Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live."

As a society, as a human collective, we should be better than this. We should be more compassionate than this. Everyone has a right to dignity, and to freedom.

David McCuskey, Orono


Tara Guy's article in Wednesday's Opinion Exchange regarding medical aid in dying was spot on. Bodily autonomy at the end of life should be unquestionable. None of us are getting out of here alive, and in the right circumstances, we should all have the option of medical aid in dying. This has been spelled out in the Minnesota End-of-Life Option Act, which I hope will be considered in this legislative session. A close friend in California used the medical-aid-in-dying option recently. He was 89, living in a rest home, on morphine for intractable pain, diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and unable to do much of anything for himself. In California, where medical aid in dying is authorized, he chose a date, gathered his family and close friends, took his prescribed medication and passed in 20 minutes. It was incredibly serene and peaceful. I was there and can only hope, when my time comes, my passing will be the same.

David Sturgeon, Tonka Bay