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Chauvin expected to plead guilty in civil rights case

Plus: Minnesota hospital CEOs plead with public to get vaccinated; man dies following a police chase that began in St. Cloud; Purple Line BRT project takes another step forward; and more.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listening to Judge Peter A. Cahill read the three guilty verdicts on Tuesday afternoon.
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The AP’s Amy Forliti writes: “Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin appears to be on the verge of pleading guilty to violating George Floyd ‘s civil rights, a move that would remove him from a federal trial but could significantly increase the amount of time he’ll spend behind bars. A notice sent out Monday by the court’s electronic filing system shows a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday for Chauvin to change his not guilty plea. These types of notices typically indicate a defendant is planning to plead guilty, though nothing will be official until it happens in court.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson, “Pandemic levels worsened after brief improvements over the Thanksgiving holiday, reaching levels not seen in Minnesota since last December, before COVID-19 vaccine was available. … Minnesota has the nation’s third highest rate of new coronavirus infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but there are hopeful signs. CDC trend data indicates that Minnesota’s infection rate may have peaked on Dec. 6, and Mayo Clinic’s 14-day pandemic forecast predicts that infection rates will begin to drop next week.”

The Pioneer Press reports: “Leaders of Minnesota hospital systems are pleading with the public to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and to take precautions such as wearing a mask as hospitalizations for the virus remain at record highs for 2021. CEOs of nine Minnesota health systems — Allina Health, Children’s Minnesota, Fairview Health Systems, HealthPartners, Hennepin Healthcare, North Memorial Health, Essentia Health, Mayo Clinic and CentraCare — purchased full-page advertisements in newspapers across the state calling for the public to take the virus more seriously. The ad ran in Sunday’s Pioneer Press.”

WCCO-TV reports: “A man is dead following a police chase Monday that began in St. Cloud and ended near Monticello. St. Cloud police say officers were called to a parking lot on the 1000 block of 5th Avenue South at about 2:42 p.m. on a report of a shooting. They arrived to a find a 20-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to the stomach. He was hospitalized, and is in serious but stable condition Monday evening.”

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Also in the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro writes: “Plans for a 15-mile bus rapid transit route connecting downtown St. Paul to White Bear Lake keep rolling along the approval process. The Purple Line has received approval to enter the project development phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, Metro Transit said Monday. …The development phase is the third of five stages in a federal process to complete the Metro Transit line, which backers project will start service in 2026. ”

The Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson says, “The Minnesota Board of Pardons on Monday, Dec. 13, voted unanimously to allow a woman who drowned her newborn baby in a bathtub to serve out the remainder of her sentence on supervised release. Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison and Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea supported 35 year old Samantha Heiges’ request to have her sentence commuted so that she can help raise her living daughter.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Patrick Condon writes: “A $22.5 million jury verdict against 3M is the largest penalty yet in a series of trials over allegedly defective earplugs manufactured by the Maplewood-based company. A federal jury in Tallahassee, Fla., late last week ruled in favor of Theodore Finley, who served in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2014. …  It was the eighth ruling in a series of bellwether trials against the company, and the fifth where the plaintiff prevailed. Three juries rejected all claims against 3M.”

In The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin writes, “Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has maximized her role as chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, putting her front and center in the battle to pass President Biden’s agenda. She’s perfected the art of framing an issue in populist terms and casting Republicans as the Scrooges of American politics.”

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