The Impacts of the Hennepin County Attorney Race
Minneapolis & St. Paul Elections 2022
There are about 50 attorneys and legal support staff that make up the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO), and about another 450 full time staff, yet only the chief prosecutor among them is elected by the general public. This elected official, the Hennepin County Attorney, presides over the entire office.
The HCAO prosecutes adult felony and all juvenile criminal cases. This includes police killings. All too often, the decision is made not to file charges against police officers who kill, especially and disproportionately, unarmed Black men. The entire world watched one of the most glaringly unjustified, tragic and galvanizing cases of police killing of an unarmed Black man on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin.
The case first went to the HCAO where it was headed for a charge of third degree murder, a charge that seemed too low to fit the crime and the same charge that led to a successful conviction of former MPD Officer Mohamed Noor - the first conviction of a former police officer in the history of Minnesota.
Activists launched a recall of the county attorney. Subsequently, the same judge who went on to preside over the murder trial of Derek Chauvin made the decision to ban the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office from representing the case due to their early meetings with the medical examiner who was a key witness. The State Attorney General’s Office took over the case and swiftly elevated the charges. This led to the successful conviction of Chauvin on unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree
murder and second-degree manslaughter
The County Attorney often works with other government entities, sometimes working to transfer jurisdiction or venue of cases to other courts. It is often the will of the county attorney that can alter outcomes in these cases. Electing a county attorney who will be bold enough, and has the integrity, todo what is necessary to advocate for justice on behalf of victims is critical. As we saw in the cases of Noor and Chauvin, the county attorney played in integral role in determining the type and severity of the felony charges. The county attorney has the power to decide, or change, what is considered a low level offense vs a felony offense. This elected official has the power to reverse racial disparities in sentencing and convictions, and to change lives and the actual fabric of punitive culture that disproportionately upends Black lives in our society
On November 8th , voters who reside in Hennepin County will face a decision between Mary Moriarty andMartha Holton Dimick. Both candidates have vowed to prioritize prosecution of violent crimes and police accountability, and vow to decriminalize low level marijuana possession.
Moriarty, who won the DFL endorsement, served as the chief public defender for Hennepin County, from 2014 – 2020, and is known for being outspoken about the need for criminal justice and police reform. Holton Dimick, who was endorsed by the Star Tribune and law enforcement, has a background that includes North Minneapolis Community Prosecutor, under the appointment of former Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, and Deputy City Attorney of Minneapolis before being appointed by former Governor Mark Dayton as a serious crimes Judge for the 4th Judicial District. She is outspoken about the need to fully fund police. Moriarty led the Primary Election with 36% of votes compared to Holton Dimick’s 17%. Both advanced to the General Election this November.
Learn more about these candidates at www.blackvotesmattermn.com,
or by visiting: www.maryforhennepin.com
J. Deebaa Sirdar
Guest Editor, Black Votes Matter MN
NOVEMBER 5, 2024