Pick special prosecutor in Twin Cities
By John Dorschner
As pressure has mounted for County Attorney Mike Freeman to indict the other three cops involved in George Floyd’s death, he’s been wise to hesitate. Perhaps even wiser would be to step aside and allow a special prosecutor be appointed to pursue the case.
In 1980, State Attorney Janet Reno rushed ahead in indicting six cops in the death of black motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie, and the rush made a mess of the case — which ended in acquittals and a murderous riot.
In my book, Verdict on Trial, veteran criminal defense attorney James Lees (an ex-cop, ex-prosecutor) said Reno would have been much better stepping aside and allowing an outside prosecutor examine the case: After all, Reno was relying on investigators who were colleagues of those who beat McDuffie — not a good situation.
In a letter to editor today in the Miami Herald, Phillip Hubbart — a retired appellate court judge and former public defender — suggests that’s what Minnesota should do:
“I am not surprised the local prosecutor in Minnesota has been slow to file and vigorously purse criminal charges against the four police officers who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. The prosecutor has a built-in conflict of interest.
“He relies on the local police to investigate and make his many cases in court. It is difficult, if not impossible, for him to charge and zealously prosecute one of his own police investigators with a crime. He risks a police union backlash if he does so. What is needed is an independent prosecutor.”
Verdict on Trial: The Inside Story of The Cop Case That Ignited Miami’s Deadliest Riot is available on Amazon.