Get Out of Town

Mary Fallon

In retrospect, there's no way to say for sure why Chaqui Franklin and Sherry Appledorn seemed to have it in for each other. What's clear is that by the time the two women had the encounter that would eventually attract the attention of the state Supreme Court, there was no love lost between them.

According to the stack of legal papers the case of State of Minnesota v. Franklin has generated, the tension finally erupted on June 29, 1998, when Chaqui Franklin tried to visit her 19-month-old son, who has cerebral palsy and lives with his grandmother at a south Minneapolis townhome development called Bossen Terrace. At the time, the federally subsidized housing complex had a controversial policy under which visitors whom management considered disruptive could be charged with trespassing and ordered to stay away.

Court documents show that Chaqui Franklin, then 19, had run afoul of the policy while trying to visit her mother and son at least six times as a juvenile, as well as three times after she turned 18. Appledorn, a Minneapolis police officer who worked part time at the complex, had been involved in many of those arrests, and she would later testify in court that Franklin's friends had threatened her life. (Appledorn refused to comment for this story; Franklin could not be reached.)

On the afternoon in question, according to a police report on the incident, Chaqui Franklin showed up at the Bossen manager's office asking whether she could see her child. The manager said no, adding that they could get together in a park. She ordered Franklin off the property and called 911.

Appledorn picked up the call while on patrol in her squad car and drove to Bossen Terrace, where she saw Chaqui Franklin heading off the grounds. She arrested the teen, placed her in the back of the car, and drove to the complex office to speak with the manager.

At some point, court documents continue, Franklin began screaming and kicking at the car door. Appledorn opened the door so Franklin could speak to her mother, at which point the teen "kicked the door, kicked the officer, struck the officer with her fists, grabbed for the officer's gun, and choked the officer until the officer became light-headed."

Eight months later Franklin pleaded guilty to assault and to obstructing the legal process, both gross misdemeanors. She was put on probation for two years and told that if she violated it she'd end up serving a year in the workhouse--a fairly standard sentence. But Hennepin County District Court judge Patricia Kerr Karasov added an unusual condition: Unless she was attending court-mandated life-skills classes or working, Franklin was not to set foot into Minneapolis. She'd have to stay in St. Paul with her sister and come up with a plan to get her life together. If she walked the straight and narrow for a few months, Kerr Karasov might lift the condition.

It was that order that landed the case before the Supreme Court; last week the judges found that Kerr Karasov had gone too far. Without Franklin's consent, her attorneys wouldn't comment for this story. But Hamline University law professor Robin Magee says the judge's condition robbed Franklin of her right to live, work, and worship where she chose.

"There are some serious constitutional issues here," argues Magee, who also serves as the attorney for Franklin's mother. "The sentence suggests that this person has no need to live a normal life, that she's a throwaway person."

But the high court never did consider the constitutional aspects of Franklin's case, notes Peter Erlinder, a professor of constitutional criminal law at William Mitchell College of Law. The justices merely found that the trial court had "abused its discretion" by ordering Franklin out of the city.

"The idea that restraints on behavior are included as a part of a probationary sentence is quite common," says Erlinder. "The question is how broad those behavioral restrictions can be."

In their opinion, the justices noted that specific geographic restrictions on probationers--such as banning a drug offender from the crack house where he was arrested--have usually been found constitutional. But, the justices added, "the condition must be reasonably related to the purposes of probation"--rehabilitating offenders and safeguarding public safety.

"The trial court might have thought that excluding her from Bossen Terrace would help her change her focus," says Magee. "But as the high court said, excluding her from all 58 square miles [of Minneapolis] doesn't accomplish that."

In any case, following the judge's get-out-of-town order proved too much for Franklin. A week after the sentencing, Appledorn arrested her as she attended church in Minneapolis with her mother. Court records don't say how the officer learned that Franklin was there; Katherine Franklin says someone in the congregation called Appledorn at home.

Three days later another judge, Robert Lynn, modified Franklin's probation conditions to allow her to attend church--a decision Kerr Karasov quickly reversed. When Franklin asked her to lift the ban, Kerr Karasov said she could come to Minneapolis to attend school and to see her doctor at Hennepin County Medical Center, but nothing else. "Don't even ask to come into Minneapolis for other reasons," the judge told Franklin.

Franklin protested that the sister she was living with in St. Paul was planning to move back across the river. She was afraid she would end up homeless, she explained. She had a job, but her criminal record would make it nearly impossible for her to rent an apartment. And she was pregnant.

"Ms. Franklin, I don't care what you are telling me," Kerr Karasov retorted. "You are not going to live in Minneapolis. So make other arrangements. That is the end of the hearing." The judge also denied Franklin's renewed request to be allowed to attend church with her mother: "You can go to church in St. Paul."

Katherine Franklin was worried about homelessness, too. She had been arrested along with her daughter on June 29 and charged with assault. The elder Franklin says she didn't touch Appledorn or any of the other officers involved; the charges were eventually dismissed.

When she got out of jail, Katherine Franklin says, she got a letter from Bossen Terrace management asking her to move out. She couldn't find a place that was affordable on her and her grandson's combined $1,012 in disability payments and other benefits, she says; when she refused to move, she was evicted. The blemish on her record made it even harder to find another apartment, so she finally moved in with the same daughter who was already playing host to Chaqui--three women and five children squeezed into a tiny house on St. Paul's east side. (Robin Magee says she has since succeeded in having the eviction expunged from Franklin's record.)

According to Franklin, her daughter is happy that the Supreme Court saw things her way. But the truth is, it doesn't matter much any more. In September, a month after the birth of her second child, Chaqui Franklin was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at the Lake Street Target store; since being in the city violated her probation, Kerr Karasov ordered her to serve out the rest of her stayed sentence in the Hennepin County workhouse. After her release in December, she moved to California with the new baby and the children's father.


Interns Chris Jones and Julie Mañes contributed research to this story.

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