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Monday, November 5, 2007

Freeman speaks out on recent high court decision

Speaking of interesting quotes (see post below), Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman (on right) had one in a story Minnesota Lawyer published today ("Clergy criminal assault law survives challenge").

Freeman was, of course, pleased that Minnesota Supreme Court did not strike down the law that makes it a crime for clergy members to have sex with a person who is seeking or receiving “religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort in private.” However, the court went on to give the defendant in that case -- a priest convicted of having sex with two woman parishioners -- a new trial. The high court found that the admission of certain evidence of religious practice and customs during the trial violated the Establishment Clause.

After consulting his trial team, Freeman felt that the defense had not made sufficient objection to the admission of the offending evidence at trial to preserve the issue for appeal.

“This Supreme Court has too often reversed cases for conduct not objected to below. We don’t think that is a good practice," said Freeman, who may file for a rehearing. (The defense attorney maintains that sufficient objection was made at trial in this case.)

In any event, it is highly unusual for a county attorney to make such a strong public statement taking the high court to task.

By the way, the case is State v. Bussmann.

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