Minneapolis drops case against civil rights lawyer Jordan Kushner

Jordan Kushner said there were numerous curious elements in what should've been a minor case.

Jordan Kushner said there were numerous curious elements in what should've been a minor case.

More than five months after he was arrested for filming interactions between police and protesters, Jordan Kushner's off the hook. This means the veteran civil rights attorney can focus more of his time on defending clients whose cases are, frankly, far more intriguing than the one against Kushner.

The city had charged Kushner with three misdemeanor crimes for his actions on November 3, 2015, when he was attending a controversial Israeli academic's speech at the University of Minnesota. When other people in the crowd began protesting, Kushner started filming as police dragged them out. Soon enough, cops decided Kushner himself was the next guy who needed help finding the door — and the back of a squad car.

The Minneapolis City Attorney's Office dropped its case against Kushner on Friday, citing "prosecutorial discretion." It's an oddly sensible twist for a case that had strangely endured longer, and received more of the city's attention, than most others of this stature. Kushner had noted several things that seemed different from previous times he'd been arrested for filming police, not to mention the many protest-related cases he's argued before:

  • Police continued to go back and re-interview witnesses well after the fact, bolstering their case against Kushner.
  • After he refused to accept a plea deal, the city added a second prosecutor to help its case against Kushner, who was, along with another attorney, serving as co-counsel in his own defense.
  • At a preliminary court hearing in what seemed like a relatively minor case, six lawyers for the city attorney's office showed up to take in the proceedings.

Kushner noted these peculiarities in earlier interviews with City Pages. This pissed the City Attorney's Office right off: Twice, Minneapolis sought a gag order against Kushner, most recently in a court filing on March 25. 

Kushner, at that time, filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, saying he had been "selectively and discriminatorily arrested and prosecuted." Kushner had said he was not sure why the city had been so fervent in bringing charges against him, but suggested it might have been payback for signing a letter that argued against the reappointment of Susan Segal as city attorney.

Kushner has also represented numerous protest groups in the past, and has most recently been affiliated with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, helping members of that outfit get off after their Mall of America arrests in December 2014, and defeating the city of Bloomington's attempted injunction against protests there one year later