Villaume & Schiek, P.A.
Call Us Today, Free consultation
Local 952-232-1886
Toll Free866-719-3452

Minneapolis Civil Rights Law Blog

The sometimes-blurry line between being detained and arrested

Have you ever been hassled by a police officer for seemingly no reason? This is an issue that minorities often face in large cities around the U.S., including here in the Twin Cities metro. Late last month, it happened to a man in St. Paul, and it made the news for two reasons.

First, the man captured a video recording of the interaction between himself and police. The second reason was that the man refused to give his name and show ID because he had not broken any laws. He simply happened to be in the area when police responded to a trespassing call. The man was arrested for essentially failing to comply with the officers.

MN Supreme Court suppresses illegally obtained drug evidence

When it comes to criminal charges, all details leading up to the charges are important. This is because the way in which law enforcement officers obtain evidence can be central to whether or not that evidence is allowed to be used against you in court.

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If evidence was obtained in an illegal search and seizure, it generally cannot be used in court. A ruling issued last month by the Minnesota Supreme Court is a good example.

Why traditional advice on standing up to bullies no longer works

School bullies have been around as long as schools have existed, and bullying itself dates back much further that. Because bullying is nothing new, a lot of parents and grandparents think they have the solutions figured out. They tell their kids and grandkids to just “stand up to the bully and fight back. This will get them to leave you alone.”

In principal, this is an effective strategy. And it used to work decades ago. It rarely works today. Bullying hasn’t changed all that much, but the delivery system has changed dramatically. Fighting back isn’t always possible, and even when it is, it could just lead to more danger and escalated violence.

Crime victim sues for network for defamation over TV movie

Certain cable networks have developed unintended reputations for the kind of programming they tend to favor. The History Channel, for instance, has been dubbed the “Hitler Channel” by some who believe that the network’s shows focus far too heavily on the Nazis in World War II.

As another example, the “Lifetime” network has been criticized on many occasions for releasing made-for-TV movies predominantly featuring female crime victims being stalked, sexually assaulted and murdered by men. While many of these movies are based on true stories, the network has been known to take liberties with the details, and that has angered some real-life victims whose stories were adapted.

The alarming rise in SWAT team use and deadly errors: Part II

In our last post, we began a discussion about the increasing use of SWAT teams by U.S. law enforcement agencies. There are certainly dangerous situations that necessitate the use of “Special Weapons And Tactics,” but calling in the SWAT team should be the exception and not the rule. Yet these paramilitary teams are increasingly being used for inappropriate purposes like executing search warrants to non-violent drug offenders.

Whenever law enforcement agencies conduct surprise raids while wielding serious firepower, the risks are inherently higher than they would otherwise be. Even law-abiding citizens may react unpredictably to a surprise home invasion, and gun owners may draw their weapon out of fear for their own safety. Sadly, those who do are often shot and killed by SWAT officers.

The alarming rise in SWAT team use and deadly errors: Part I

Earlier this summer, police in St. Paul executed a “no-knock” warrant on a home. They burst in with guns drawn and immediately shot and killed the family’s two dogs. After conducting a search, they left with what amounted to marijuana paraphernalia confiscated from a man who admits that he is a “recreational marijuana smoker.”

Believe it or not, this story is among the more peacefully resolved incidents involving a raid by a SWAT team, which stands for “Special Weapons And Tactics.” Although SWAT teams have been a law enforcement mainstay since the 1970s, their use and their firepower have increased substantially in recent decades. One statistic says that SWAT raids have increased by 1,400 percent since the 1980s.

Minneapolis holds summit to discuss Minnesota's heroin epidemic

Like every state in the U.S., Minnesota has a serious drug problem, and the main culprit is heroin. Last year, Hennepin County alone experienced 132 deaths from opioids – a class of drugs that includes heroin and other opiate drugs like OxyContin and methadone. Of the 132 fatal overdoses last year, approximately 56 were traced directly to heroin.

The problem is bad enough that a special heroin summit was held last week in Minneapolis. It was attended by a diverse group of professionals that included law enforcement, prosecutors, chemical dependency treatment experts and medical officials. All sides seemed to agree that heroin and other opioids pose a serious threat. What they could not agree on, however, is what to do about it.

Minnesota's drunk driving arrests and convictions declining

We recently finished celebrating Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer and a period that generally has Minnesota law enforcement agencies on high alert. Like many holidays, Labor Day weekend is associated with higher rates of drunk driving.

According to news sources, however, Minnesota’s arrest and conviction rates for driving under the influence appear to be declining. To put the numbers in perspective, the DUI arrest rate in 2006 was close to 42,000. Last year, the number of arrests was down to 25,700. Of those, approximately 19,000 ended with criminal convictions.

MDHR settles gay discrimination complaint filed by same-sex couple

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota went into effect just over a year ago. It should come as little surprise that implementation of the law has not been without problems. This is particularly true in cities and towns far removed from the Twin Cities metro, where opposition to same-sex marriage is more widespread.

Last month, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights settled what may be “the first public accommodation case for the department related to same-sex marriage,” according to MDHR Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. The settlement was negotiated in response to allegations that a gay couple was turned away from a lodge in Little Falls that they had sought to book for their wedding and reception.

Marijuana odor sufficient cause to search a vehicle in Minnesota

A 25-year old man was charged with four counts of felony drug possession after he was pulled over by Cottage Grove police in May 2013. Officers reportedly discovered a duffel bag containing drugs and drug paraphernalia after searching the vehicle. The search was initiated after an officer allegedly smelled marijuana smoke.

When the case went to trial, the man attempted to have the evidence found by the officer suppressed on the basis that his trunk was searched illegally. Initially, the man's request was granted by a district court; however, the ruling was appealed by the county prosecutors.

Villaume & Schiek, P.A.
2051 Killebrew Drive, Suite 611
Bloomington, MN 55425

Phone: 952-232-1886
Toll Free: 866-719-3452
Fax: 952-851-9510
Bloomington Law Office Map

  • Risks & potential benefits of disclosing mental illness: Part II
    [Aug 27] Earlier this week, we began a discussion about mental illness as it relates to employment. Most employers understand and are willing to accommodate an obvious and visible disability, such as one requiring the use of a wheelchair. But mental... Read More
  • Risks & potential benefits of disclosing mental illness: Part I
    [Aug 27] It is commonly understood that individuals are at risk of suffering disability discrimination in the workplace if they have an obvious and visible disability. After all, you can't really hide the fact that you rely on a wheelchair unless... Read More
  • Minnesota trio charged with drug sales in sting
    [Aug 27] Three men were detained in Minnesota in relation to their alleged involvement in heroin sales on the morning of Aug. 20. Law enforcement executed search warrants on two apartments in the 300 block of Main Street South beginning at... Read More
  • Trial date for man accused of DWI death of Minnesota newlywed
    [Aug 26] A trial date has been set for a man charged with DWI and numerous other offenses in relation to a car accident that led to the death of a Minnesota woman during her New Hampshire honeymoon. The 2013 crash... Read More
  • False sex crime allegation tarnishes rocker's reputation
    [Aug 24] An allegation of sexual assault can have serious consequences for both the accused and the alleged victim. A recent case involving indie rocker Oberst provides context. The allegation was made on a woman’s personal website. It took a $1.2... Read More
  • Minnesota man sentenced to prison for selling synthetic drugs
    [Aug 22] A Minnesota man who was accused of selling synthetic drugs was received a 17-and-a-half-year sentence on Aug. 14. According to the report, the man was convicted on 51 charges associated with the selling of synthetic drugs known as "spice,"... Read More