City attorney issues pretrial gag order

In February, civil rights lawyer Jordan Kushner was arrested at a protest at Mondale Hall.

Brian Edwards

The Minneapolis city attorney has issued a gag order against lawyers and an unnamed jury in the case of a local lawyer awaiting trial.
 
 
Jordan Kushner, a civil rights lawyer, is being charged with three misdemeanors after police escorted him out of the University of Minnesota’s Walter F. Mondale Hall in February during a protest.
 
 
A judge initially denied the city attorney’s informal request for a gag order during pretrial, Kushner said in an email, adding that the denial was justified by protection of First Amendment rights.
 
 
The city attorney includes a gag order request in nearly every case where pretrial motions are filed, Mary Ellen Heng, deputy city attorney for the criminal division said in an emailed statement.
 
 
“This motion was made to protect the integrity of the trial and to ensure that this case is tried to the jury and not in the court of public opinion,” she said.
 
 
Kushner is facing disorderly conduct, trespassing and obstruction of legal process charges after filming police during the protest of speaker Moshe Halbertal, an Israeli law professor.
 
 
According to the police report, Kushner was kicking and screaming when he was escorted out of the building.
 
 
“There was a male in the fifth row who was shouting and arguing with [O]fficer Lang about video recording the lecture,” University of Minnesota Police Department Lt. Troy Buhta said in the report.
 
 
Kushner — who was arrested in 1989, 1999 and 2012 for similar charges that were later dropped — claimed the city is targeting him for past clashes.
 
 
Witnesses at the scene gave mixed accounts of the incident, saying Kushner initially refused to leave but didn’t resist like officers said in their report.
 
 
Coleen Rowley, a peace activist and former FBI agent who knows Kushner from past demonstrations, said she didn’t hear Kushner yell as he was escorted out but did hear him tell police he did nothing wrong.
 
 
Hannah Weikel contributed to this report .