I am of two, maybe more, minds regarding the recent decision by Mary Moriarty, the newly elected Hennepin County attorney, to dismiss a rape case because of the prosecutor's misrepresentation to the presiding judge ("Rape case dismissed after lie to judge," Jan. 10). As someone who served as an attorney in several different branches of government, I viewed absolute honesty with respect to the court, as well as opposing counsel, to be a paramount concern. I am proud to say that my colleagues in the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Minnesota Commerce Department and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service seemed similarly to hold truthfulness in high regard.
Lately, however, it appears to me, frankly, that lying is endemic in all aspects of society. The prosecutor in the case at issue lied about an inconsequential matter. This is mind-boggling. Decades ago, as an assistant U.S. Attorney, I needed an affidavit signed by an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who was located in St. Paul, while I was in Minneapolis. It was a routine matter, and she asked if I could sign her name to the affidavit. I told her that I could not, so she schlepped to my office. At the hearing the next day, something happened that neither of us expected. Opposing counsel called her to the witness stand. The first question he put to her was, "Is this your signature?" Afterward, the employee thanked me. She was basically an honest person, and she would not have known what to say if I had signed the document. I expect the consequences for me could have been significant and, importantly, a judge whom I appeared before frequently would have lost confidence in me.
The consequences in this rape case are severe and terrible for the victim. It is debatable whether Moriarty's decision was necessary or appropriate. But the prosecutors in the Hennepin County Attorney's Office have been put on notice. There's a new county attorney in town. I know firsthand how much prosecutors care about their cases. They better be scrupulously honest about them.
Elissa Mautner, Minneapolis
The critics of Moriarty's dismissal of a rape case due to prosecutorial misconduct say she should have just brought in a new prosecutor ("One juror's verdict: No clear reason to dismiss case," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 12). They are missing an important point. Five of the six witnesses in the case had already testified. The "new prosecutor" would not have heard their testimony. This is not like car repair, where a new mechanic can put the wheels back on. The same lawyer needs to see and hear the evidence all the way through. Just because someone has an attorney's license doesn't mean they can walk in and complete another lawyer's case.
John Stuart, Minneapolis
The writer is former chief state public defender.
While I agree with "One juror's verdict: no clear reason to dismiss case" and "Barely a week in, Moriarty blunders" (Readers Write, Jan. 12) and am concerned about the defendant not receiving justice by ending the trial without a final judgment, I am more concerned about the victim not receiving justice. This may be a person in his family or someone who must face him, knowing her story has been dismissed. That is the real injustice. The county attorney should be focused on the victim getting justice through prosecution that is completed professionally.
Mary Hoopman, Minneapolis
Legalize, but not like that
I would like to thank the countless marijuana legalization activists and advocates for their tireless work spanning decades. At long last the DFL has come to its senses and put forth a bill to legalize marijuana.
While I would prefer a full repeal of all existing marijuana laws, I also don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Broadly speaking, marijuana legalization is a good thing. Aside from the principle of allowing people to make choices about what they put in their own bodies, marijuana offers real health benefits to many — myself included. Furthermore, laws prohibiting it lead to lives either disrupted or destroyed.
While the bill offers some good (allowing an individual to personally own up to four flowering plants and five pounds of marijuana, restricting use to those 21 and older, etc.) it is also full of the sort of regulations that will benefit big businesses at the expense of small businesses.
One small-business owner I know estimates that compliance with the new regulations could cost her up to $200,000. These sorts of regulations lead to a market where consumers are restricted in the ability to choose between large, corporate brands rather than an open and free market where small businesses thrive and consumers are given an array of choices and options.
Other blue states have legalized marijuana in similar manners that led to disasters. In California, the city of Los Angeles was forced to subsidize marijuana dispensaries due to the onerous costs of regulatory compliance. Minnesotans deserve better. Let's try something different here.
Nate Atkins, Minneapolis
My consumption of cannabis as a flower, extract, etc., began in 1975. I lived in Cincinnati at the time, and like most adolescents who believed Jeff Spicoli would make a fine president for their high school's student body, my opinions have mellowed since then; I wanted to offer the opinion of someone who strongly advocates for legalization yet disagrees with the limits suggested.
Expungement: Expunged convictions are the most necessary part of this bill, in that these laws are used not as a curb on gateway drugs to addiction (which cannabis is not) but rather to open a gateway for youth into the privatized penal system, which begins a downward spiral, especially for people of color.
Possession and use: If the goal is to regulate and control the legal use of cannabis in all its forms, I believe the initial quantities suffice. The at-home quantities, however, far exceed what should be allowed. During my red-eyed days back in the 1970s, most of the pot we smoked may take an ample amount to achieve the desired state of euphoria and, as an aside, a strong desire to consume copious amounts of Oreos. Five pounds of today's cannabis flower is enough to light up all the attendees at a concert at U.S. Bank Stadium. While this may be great for the concessionaires, it offers anyone and everyone an opportunity to begin an untaxed resale operation, bypassing the vendors who will have a substantial investment to operate legally.
Highway safety: To determine the best way of detecting impairment, the law proposes setting up roadside checkpoints that infringe on the rights of privacy for everyone using this highway and are ridiculous. As stated in the provision, cannabis may remain detectable in the bloodstream for weeks, yet the extent of impairment subsides in hours or less. This allows law enforcement to subject everyone traveling said causeway exposure to law enforcement, who may assert probable cause at any time.
I am all for passing legalization legislation, but this law requires refinement. I suggest a bipartisan consumer advocacy group provide unbiased advice to ensure we write legislation that makes sense and ensures success for both consumers and non-consumers.
Lastly, I propose a sub-tax on prepackaged snacks, including crackers, cookies, chips, etc. These snacks are known to be a significant contributor to obesity, and their consumption with the passing of cannabis legislation will undoubtedly increase. The tax increase could be used to cover the cost of the free-lunch program also being bandied about.
Michael Meyer, Lakeville