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Bill to limit cameras in Minnesota courtrooms moves forward

Plus: Lawmakers make push (again) to legalize sale of fireworks in Minnesota; Como Park high school student arrested after police find loaded gun on him; Dayton says he’s ‘open’ to bill outlawing some protests; and more.

Ramsey County Courthouse Room 880
Ramsey County

Says Tad Vezner in the PiPress, “A state bill designed to restrict fledgling efforts to allow video coverage of Minnesota court sentencings passed through a House committee Wednesday — with critics arguing it would hinder cooperation by witnesses and victims, and proponents arguing it would give the public additional understanding and confidence in the court process. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by both the majority and minority leaders of the House’s public safety committee, prohibits recording of any criminal matter — from court hearings to motions and arguments — without the consent of everyone from a trial’s victim and defendant to any witnesses under subpoena, as well as the prosecutor and judge.”

Good to know they’re grappling with the big issues of the day. Says Jessie Van Berkel in the Strib, “Bottle rockets, Roman candles and other aerial fireworks could — legally — light up Minnesota skies this Fourth of July if some lawmakers have their way. Minnesotans have long ignored the state’s laws and shot off fireworks and firecrackers here, but they head across the border to pick up the goods, said Sen. Torrey Westrom, a Republican from Elbow Lake whose district abuts North Dakota. … The perennial attempt by lawmakers to allow flashier fireworks is likely to run into a roadblock at Gov. Mark Dayton’s office. Dayton vetoed a similar bill in 2012 and reiterated his opposition to the measure in 2016.” 

Dismissing the chance to defend a dead guy. Mary Lynn Smith of the Strib writes, “Citing new DNA evidence, attorneys working for the Minnesota Innocence project have been pushing for the past four years to exonerate Billy Glaze, who was convicted of killing three women decades earlier. Glaze died in 2015 before they could make their case. … In an opinion published Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed that appeal, saying the attorneys lacked the authority to act on Glaze’s behalf. When Glaze died, the attorneys ceased to represent him, according to the Supreme Court opinion.”

Today in precious Second Amendment news. Says Kelly Smith for the Strib: “In Minnesota, crowds of students have participated in school walkouts and have pressed policymakers at the State Capitol for stricter gun laws. They plan to rally again this Saturday in St. Paul, as part of the national March for Our Lives event. But some Minnesota students won’t be joining in. A less visible, less vocal group of high school students — who are no less passionate — disagree with the focus on gun laws as the national gun safety debate spills into classrooms and hallways nationwide. … The tension in local high schools isn’t likely to dissipate anytime soon.”

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Speaking of guns. Mara Gottfried and Josh Verges at the PiPress say, “St. Paul police arrested a student at Como Park Senior High School after finding him with a loaded gun in his waistband on Wednesday. Investigators are looking into where the 16-year-old student obtained the gun and why he brought it to school. … Como was not locked down and students were not evacuated, said Toya Stewart Downey, St. Paul Public Schools spokeswoman.” And if an armed teacher confronted him?

In other protest news, Brian Bakst at MPR reports, “Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he is open to legislation declaring it unlawful to stage protests that spill onto freeways or tie up airport access roads as long as it doesn’t become a ‘dragnet’ to quash dissent. In an interview with MPR News, Dayton said his decision on signing the measure will depend on how lawmakers word their bill. Last year, he objected to a proposal during final negotiations with the Republican-led Legislature, and it got set aside in the end. ‘The language last year was too broad and too vague and could be misused to restrict people’s right to lawful, free assembly,’ Dayton said … .”

These guys. Matt Sepic of MPR is in Illinois reporting on the Bloomington mosque bombing suspects. “Two of the three men accused of bombing a suburban Twin Cities mosque last summer made brief appearances Wednesday in an Illinois federal courtroom. … The three men are part of an anti-government group in east-central Illinois called the ‘White Rabbit Militia.’ The group’s YouTube channel includes videos where a man wearing a ski mask espouses conspiracy theories about the ‘deep state’ and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.” 

Might actually be a better gig than governor. Says Kyle Potter of the AP, “Former gubernatorial candidate and Democratic state Rep. Paul Thissen was named as one of four finalists for a Minnesota Supreme Court vacancy on Wednesday, raising the specter of Gov. Mark Dayton naming another partisan figure to the state’s highest court. The shortlist of candidates released by an independent commission also includes Dayton’s former cabinet member and current Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Lucinda Jesson, who joined the court in early 2016 after serving five years as commissioner of the Department of Human Services. Minnesota Tax Court Chief Judge Bradford Delapena and District Court Judge Jeffrey Bryan are also in the running.”