Prof. Frase Quoted in Newsweek Article Examining Potential Legal Arguments in Case Brought Against Four Former Police Officers Charged in the Tragic Killing of George FloydJune 10, 2020
Professor Richard Frase was quoted in a Newsweek article examining charges brought against four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd. Professor Frase noted that Minnesota’s second degree felony murder law is one of the broadest in the country, and that this charge—based on intentional felony assault—also made it easier to charge the other three officers as accomplices. The other murder and manslaughter charges that were filed do not require proof of any intent to cause bodily harm, and thus raise a classic criminal law conundrum: can a person intentionally aid and abet an unintentional crime? But, Frase further noted, even under the felony murder charge one of the other officers may have a defense. Although Officer Lane’s repeated requests to turn Floyd on his side shows that Lane was aware of the seriousness of the risk to Floyd’s safety, those requests could also be seen as a reasonable effort (given Lane’s junior-officer status) to prevent the knee-on-the-neck assault on Floyd by veteran officer Chauvin.
June 8, 2020
Prof. Kristin Hickman was quoted in a Bloomberg Tax article, “Rule-Writing Scrutiny Pushes Tax Officials to Explain Themselves,” documenting the Treasury Department’s recent trend of providing more extensive explanations of its tax policy choices in preambles to new regulations interpreting the tax code. Quoting Prof. Hickman among others, the article attributed the trend to a combination of increased court challenges to tax regulations under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and recent efforts by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review tax regulatory actions. Prof. Hickman has written extensively about the need for greater Treasury Department compliance with the APA, and Prof. Hickman served as Special Adviser to the Administrator from OIRA in 2018-19, helping the agency as it started reviewing tax regulations for the first time.
June 7, 2020
Professor Alan Rozenshtein was quoted in the Star Tribune about the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency’s use of a Predator surveillance drone to monitor protests in the Minneapolis connected to the death of George Floyd. He noted the difficulties in governing the use of new technology by law enforcement: “It raises these hard questions of how effective do we want law enforcement to be and what is the cost of that effectiveness,” he said. “Every day we are getting closer and closer to a decision point on that.”
June 7, 2020
Professor Smith was quoted discussing emerging issues with the CARES Act’s stimulus checks issued by the IRS. Professor Smith noted remaining problems for the process of issuing payments to married taxpayers where one spouse owes back-due child support but the other spouse does not.
Prof. Frase Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight Regarding Upgraded Charges Against Former Minneapolis Police Officer in Connection with the Killing of George FloydJune 5, 2020
Professor Richard Frase spoke with BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight regarding new charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in connection with the killing of George Floyd. (Begins at 16:24). Frase explained that the additional second-degree murder charge falls into the category of felony murder, described as “causing death while committing a violent felony.” Frase also elaborated on the potential conviction and sentencing implications stemming from the new charges, and stated that it may be challenging to find impartial jurors for such a high-profile case.
Prof. Orfield and Research Fellow Stancil Pen Op-Ed in New York Times on Tragic Killing of George Floyd and Racial Segregation in Twin CitiesJune 5, 2020
Professor Myron Orfield—director of the Law School’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity—and Will Stancil ’13, a research fellow at the institute, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about the tragic killing of George Floyd and the history of racial segregation in the Twin Cities. Additionally, Orfield and Stancil argue that an integrated society is the key to reducing racial disparities.
Profs. Blumenthal and Frase Quoted in NBC News on Upgraded Charges for Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the Killing of George FloydJune 5, 2020
Professors Susanna Blumenthal and Richard Frase were quoted in an NBC News article about the upgraded charges—increased from third-degree murder to second-degree felony murder—brought against former Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin in the tragic killing of George Floyd.
“Second-degree felony murder does not require proof of intent to kill,” said Blumenthal. “What the prosecutor would need to establish is that the officer caused death while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense, which has been charged in this case as assault in the third degree.”
Frase said that while the second-degree felony murder upgrade comes with a longer statutory maximum sentence, it is easier to prove than third-degree, extreme-recklessness murder. For felony murder “the only intent you have to show is an intent to cause bodily harm. They don’t have to show extreme recklessness as to death,” added Frase.
Dean Jenkins Writes Op-Ed in MinnPost About the Path Forward to Justice in Wake of Tragic Killing of George FloydJune 3, 2020
Garry W. Jenkins, Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law, co-authored a joint commentary in MinnPost with Humphrey School of Public Affairs Dean Laura L. Bloomberg on the path forward to achieving justice for all after the tragic killing of George Floyd. “Despite the current pain and anger, we firmly believe that the path forward will require citizens to learn from each other and from experts, to talk honestly and openly, to listen with open minds, and, ultimately, to reshape existing policies, practices, and perspectives,” writes Jenkins and Bloomberg. “Minnesotans must channel our outrage into action and insist on a world in which safety and human rights are not dependent on one’s race or ethnicity.”
Prof. Frase Quoted in New York Times Regarding Legal Basis for Third-Degree Murder Charge Brought Against Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the Tragic Killing of George FloydJune 2, 2020
Professor Richard Frase—co-director of the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice—was quoted in a New York Times article examining the legal basis for the third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges brought against former Minneapolis Police Office Derek Chauvin in the tragic killing of George Floyd. Frase noted that a first- or second-degree murder charge would require prosecutors to prove that Mr. Chauvin intended to kill Mr. Floyd. Frase added that the criminal complaint against Mr. Chauvin did not identify any specific motive for officers to kill Mr. Floyd, which essentially ruled out intentional murder charges; third degree murder does not require intent to kill, only an eminently dangerous act without regard for human life.
May 29, 2020
Professor Brett McDonnell published an op-ed article titled “To Reopen the Economy, Businesses Need a ‘Safe Haven’ Protocol to Avoid Liability” in the Star Tribune on May 27, 2020. Co-written with Matt Bodie, a professor at the St. Louis University School of Law, the article addresses the current debate over waiving liability of businesses to their employees who are infected with the novel coronavirus at work. Republicans are demanding such a waiver as part of the next bill responding to the pandemic, while Democrats are opposed. McDonnell and Bodie argue that the fear of liability may indeed inhibit some businesses from re-opening, but that employees also justifiably fear employers opening up too quickly with inadequate safeguards.
In response, the article suggests two potential safe harbors which would allow employers to avoid liability. One safe harbor would require OSHA to create a standard for businesses to follow to safeguard against infection. Employers which follow that standard would then be immune for liability. But McDonnell and Bodie argue that an alternative safe harbor would be even more effective. Businesses that adopt virus safety plans approved by their employees would be immune from liability if an employee got infected. The second safe harbor would be more flexible and tailored to the circumstances of individual businesses. Employee-approved virus safety plans would also draw upon the knowledge of employees, and help ensure that employees understand and comply with the plans.