Court Denies Ex-Officer Kueng Motion To Remove County Attorney from George Floyd Criminal Case    

On August 6, Thomas Plunkett,the attorney for former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng filed a motion to have Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman removed from the team of prosecuting attorneys.[1]

According to the motion papers, Freeman ‘cannot act to protect Mr. Kueng’s right to a fair trial as they have already proclaimed his guilt in numerous public statements. Mr. Freeman has called the death of Mr. Floyd a ‘senseless death’ and that he is sympathetic to the Floyd family.” In addition, Freeman allegedly “also commented that the video of the incident from a bystander ‘is graphic, and horrific and terrible, and no person should do that.” Therefore, these papers argue, “Mr. Freeman’s comments leave no doubt that justice is not his objective in the Kueng prosecution. Mr. Freeman has fomented public anger and now seeks to taint that anger with hatred through the prosecution of Mr. Kueng. He has abdicated his duties as a prosecutor and must be removed from the case.”

Kueng’s lawyer also asserted that Freeman’s office leaked information about potential plea negotiations, which he knew “would be widely reported and have a significant impact on the local community, potential jurors, and the nation.”

The very next day (August 7) without any response from the County Attorney and without a hearing, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion. The Judge said the attorney (Thomas Plunkett) had failed to establish that there was a conflict of interest and “failed to provide legal authority for the removal of a prosecutor by the Court, even if the allegations of improper conduct are true.”[2]

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[1] Browning, Motion seeks removal of Hennepin County Attorney from case of officer charged in Floyd killing, StarTribune (Aug. 6, 2020); Assoc. Press, Ex-Cop’s Lawyer Wants Prosecutor Dropped From Floyd Case, N.Y. Times (Aug. 6, 2020).

[2]  Assoc. Press, Judge: Mike Freeman will stay on ex-cop’s case in Floyd death, StarTribune (Aug. 7, 2020.

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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