Hennepin County Attorney Implements New Disclosure Policy to Ensure Fair Court Proceedings

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty has implemented new requirements for police departments in her jurisdiction to disclose officers’ histories of misconduct. The move aims to promote fairness in court proceedings for criminal defendants.

The disclosure of critical findings related to officers’ truthfulness, bias, excessive force, improper search and seizure, or abuse of authority will now be mandatory. Additionally, police departments must notify the courts if officers have failed to adhere to proper protocols in collecting evidence, obtaining statements, or analyzing forensic evidence.

Moriarty, who assumed her position last year, consulted with police chiefs and legal experts to develop the new policy based on best practices. The previous interpretation of the law limited the disclosure of data to information deemed public under Minnesota statute, which varied across different police agencies. The new policy is seen as a more proactive approach in line with the Supreme Court’s requirements.

The decision comes after Moriarty, in her previous role as chief public defender in the county, witnessed prosecutors building criminal cases based on unreliable testimonies from police officers. Such cases were repeatedly dismissed due to unconstitutional vehicle searches conducted by a Corcoran police officer. When confronted by the court, the officer expressed no intention to change his tactics. Moriarty expressed disappointment at learning that the Corcoran police chief was unaware of these issues.

Calling it a “sea change,” Moriarty stated that the new policy ensures that police leadership is informed about credibility problems with officers that may compromise their testimony. She noted that most problems stem from training issues rather than deliberate misconduct. However, defense attorneys often struggle to determine if prosecutors are complying with the required disclosure, potentially leaving critical information undisclosed.

Moriarty’s announcement of the new policy signifies a significant step towards greater transparency and accountability in Minnesota’s criminal justice system. As the Hennepin County Attorney, she is taking proactive measures to ensure that any evidence of officer misconduct is brought to light. This development is especially crucial in light of recent debates surrounding police accountability and the need for fair trials.

This breaking news story is an important development in addressing concerns about police credibility in Hennepin County. As the policy takes effect, it will be interesting to see how it influences court proceedings and the relationship between the district attorney’s office and local law enforcement agencies. More details on the implementation and impact of the new requirements are expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.