portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

police / legal

Courts Deal With Heavy Workload From RNC Arrests

ST. PAUL ― The delegates and protesters are long gone but clean up
from the Republican National Convention has moved to the Ramsey County
Courthouse.
St. Paul City Attorney John Choi's office has hundreds of cases and the
office space is full of files. One pile is police tickets from just one
night. Another box is full of the most serious cases like assaulting police
and breaking property.

Choi said not all cases will be charged.

"I would be lying to you right now if I told you that we're going to
vigorously charge every case and everyone's going to be prosecuted. The
reality is that isn't going to happen," Choi said.

*He said that's especially true for the mass arrests last week, like those
on the Marion Street Bridge from last Thursday.
*
Choi said they have to make sure there's enough evidence and prove cases
beyond a reasonable doubt.

Another challenge has been the fact that so many arrested are from outside
Minnesota. The court is already taking calls from parents who say they can't
afford to fly their children back for court.

As the cases have started to move through the court system, the majority
have already asked their case to continue to trial, even those charged with
lesser crimes. Ramsey County's Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin said she's not
surprised because for many what they did last week was a matter of
principal.

"There are strong feelings left from the RNC all around," Gearin said. "The
courts, our viewpoint is we kind of have to stay calm, make sure that
justice is done, that due process is given."

For Choi's office, the convention's still in Minnesota and he thinks it
could be more than six months until it leaves.

St. Paul Police received a $50 million grant to cover security costs for the
convention but none of that money covered anything in the courts. Ramsey
County is still working on a total but it could cost taxpayers as much as
$100,000 to clear last week's cases.