Minneapolis civil rights lawyer to be tried

Lawyer Jordan Kushner faces three misdemeanor charges after his arrest.

Hannah Weikel

A Minneapolis civil rights attorney will go to trial on three misdemeanor charges, the Hennepin County district court announced Friday.
 
 
Jordan Kushner will defend himself alongside attorney Stephen Grigsby in July, after Minneapolis police arrested him last November at a University of Minnesota Law School lecture.
 
 
A second prosecutor was also assigned to represent the state — which isn’t unusual when the defense has two attorneys, city officials said in an emailed statement. 
 
 
Police allege Kushner was disruptive during the November lecture with Israeli law professor Moshe Halbertal, which drew protest from groups including the Anti-War Committee, Students for Justice in Palestine and Students for a Democratic Society.
 
 
According to a police incident report, Kushner was kicking and screaming as they took him from the lecture hall, after they said they asked him to leave. 
 
 
Kushner said police targeted him for defending a young woman sitting near him against what he called racial profiling by officers. 
 
 
“The video is very clear that the police had approached a woman who eventually did protest but who had not protested yet,” said Grigsby, Kushner’s attorney, “and he was pointing that out as a witness on her behalf.”
 
 
Kushner said he was not part of the protest and that he was there to videotape police interactions with the protesters and watch for misconduct. 
 
 
The civil rights attorney has faced similar charges — like trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing legal process — three times before, he said. In each of those cases, Kushner said, charges were dropped before trial.
 
 
“A lot of times, you’ll have a prosecutor that wants to go along with what the officers are saying,” said Maurice Davis, a criminal defense attorney in Detroit, Mich. “A lot of times they won’t be willing to just dismiss it. You have to fight it. You have to go to trial and prove to a jury or a judge that what happened and what you’re charged with is trumped up and it’s not the case.”
 
 
A person convicted of a misdemeanor in Minnesota could spend up to 90 days in jail or pay a fine of up to $1,000.