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Minneapolis Law Blog

Understanding 'religious freedom' laws and LGBT rights

Many Minnesotans have been hearing news reports about so-called "religious freedom" laws, but are not sure what these laws do or whom they are intended to protect. Others have heard that they essentially legalize discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

In today's post, we'll discuss one state's law in greater detail. We'll also discuss how Minnesotans have played a role in getting the law changed to prohibit LGBT discrimination.

Forums strive to educate MN's Somali community about civil rights

Our post yesterday focused on scrutiny of the Minneapolis Police Department. Although incidents involving, and complaints about, the MPD have not been nearly as serious as others around the country, the Twin Cities region nonetheless has some work to do when it comes to improving relationships between police and communities of color.

That includes the large Somali community living in Minnesota. In response to the national stories of officer-involved shootings, excessive force and civil rights violations, two forums have already been held this year to help Somali Minnesotans understand their rights during interactions with police. The second forum, which was held earlier this month, had the descriptive title of "Interacting With The Police: Learn Your Rights."

Are Mpls. police disproportionately detaining African Americans?

Law enforcement agencies in the United States have faced more suspicion and public scrutiny in the past year than at perhaps any other time in recent history. Numerous incidents involving white officers who fatally shoot unarmed black suspects have raised serious questions about how police interact with communities of color.

Minnesota has not been left out of the conversation or the scrutiny. Earlier this month, a civilian review board called the Police Conduct Oversight Commission released a report questioning whether the Minneapolis Police Department's practices may be unfairly targeting African Americans.

Amazon accused by warehouse workers of illegal wage confiscation

No one enjoys or feels respected working in a micro-managed work environment. It's one thing for an employer to have high expectations of employee performance. It's quite another matter, however, for managers to enforce unreasonably rigid rules about punctuality, productivity and break periods.

Such companies are not simply unpleasant; they are often guilty of employment law violations. One company that has been especially scrutinized is Amazon. While the internet retail giant does not yet have any distribution warehouses in Minnesota, most Minnesotans have purchased products from the company's site.

Is fraternity's possible defamation lawsuit a smart move? Part II

In our last post, we began a discussion about the now-retracted story in Rolling Stone Magazine. Late last year, the magazine published a story about an alleged gang rape committed by members of a fraternity at the University of Virginia. It came at a time when campus sexual assault was receiving a lot of media attention at schools around the country, including here in Minnesota.

The story has been discredited and the fraternity is now considering a defamation lawsuit. As we wrote in our last post, however, a lawsuit could end up hurting the fraternity's reputation more than the original incident did.

Is fraternity's possible defamation lawsuit a smart move? Part I

By now, most Americans are familiar with a controversial article printed late last year in Rolling Stone Magazine. It contained allegations by a young woman at the University of Virginia that she had been gang raped by members of one of the school's fraternities. The story came at a time when schools in Minnesota and around the country were facing scrutiny for how they handled reports from female students about sexual assaults.

Shortly after the Rolling Stone article was published, other news outlets challenged the veracity of the story. Under pressure and presented with contradictory evidence, Rolling Stone retracted the article and issued an apology. Now, representatives of the fraternity have stated publicly that they are considering a defamation lawsuit against the alleged rape victim, the article's author, Rolling Stone or all three.

Do you know your rights during interactions with police?

Many attorneys who practice criminal defense bring a broad range of experience to their chosen practice area. Before becoming a defense attorney, some work as prosecutors, judges, probation officers and in other jobs within the criminal justice system. This type of broad experience is valuable because it helps the defense attorney anticipate any challenges and understand how the prosecution will likely proceed.

Defense attorneys also understand how ignorance of one's rights can lead to problems during interactions with police. Well-meaning individuals often end up waiving their rights or cooperating in their own conviction because they think they must answer every question and comply with every request.

Do you have a teenager? How about a defense attorney? Part II

In our last post, we asked parents of teenagers to consider the following question: Do you need to research a good criminal defense attorney in case your son or daughter gets into legal trouble? As parents, most of us believe that our kids would never be "those kids." In other words, our children would never be charged with juvenile crime.

But can you be sure about that? Brain science has shown that adolescence is a time of risky behavior, lack of impulse control and a decreased ability to predict consequences. And because this generation of teens stays constantly connected through mobile technology and social media, accidentally breaking the law is easier than most people realize.

Do you have a teenager? How about a defense attorney? Part I

If you are the parent of a teenager, you have probably shelled out a lot of money to keep them safe and healthy and to improve their chances of success. Consider the money that parents often spend on sports fees and equipment, private tutors, college visits and every other expense that seems to pop up.

But with all the money you may have spent, are you prepared to help your teenager if he or she ends up in legal trouble? Do you need to research a good criminal defense attorney, just in case? It may sound far-fetched, but teenagers - even good ones - can end up on the wrong side of the law. In this week's posts, we'll explain why this happens and what you can do to help.

Minnesotans indicted in alleged pot trafficking ring

Although medical marijuana is now legal in more than half the country, the patchwork of laws continues to create problems. Many believe that as long as there is a demand for marijuana that is not being met by legal and licensed growers, a black market will continue to exist.

Minnesota's very limited medical marijuana law is set to go into effect later this year. But according to news sources, some Minnesotans have been part of a larger drug trafficking ring for years; bringing pot into the state to be resold. Recently, it was announced that law enforcement agencies have indicted 32 people in a pot-trafficking ring, including some alleged key players in Minnesota.

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