Retired Judge weighs in on Mary Moriarty

There have been several rebuttals to the divisive and defensive press conference Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty held Monday to announce she was dropping charges against Minnesota Trooper Ryan Londregan.

Londregan’s defense attorney Chis Madel delivered an impressive counter just after Moriarty’s press conference, and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the Minnesota Chief’s of Police Association, and prominent state legislators have all weighed in admirably.

But yesterday’s Star Tribune editorial piece by Martha Holton Dimick is perhaps the best of all, and serves as a poignant reminder of what could have been.

Holton Dimick, a retired Assistant Hennepin County Attorney and Hennepin County Judge, had ran against Moriarty for Hennepin County Attorney in 2022. As an African American resident of North Minneapolis with a respected career in the courtroom, she would have brought credibility, candor, and respect to the position and the issues facing our criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, her law-and-order platform did not resonate at the time with Hennepin County voters who instead bought into Moriarty’s platform of identity politics, “disparity reduction,” and “police accountability.” Yet just a year and a half into her term, the public has become “woke” (in a good way) to the troubling public safety reality Moriarty has delivered.

Holton Dimick began the piece by getting right down to business.

“I’ve known Mary Moriarty for 25 years. She was willing, as a defense attorney, to walk close to the ethical line to free the suspected criminal defendant she was representing. This personal pattern became more damaging as she rose up the ranks and became chief public defender.

I observed her attempts to manipulate the narrative to avoid her impending termination in that role. While she was eventually terminated, she successfully organized an effort to repair her reputation by claiming she was fired because she supported racial justice. That tactic was effective in the political climate present in fall 2020 (although Moriarty is still prohibited from practicing as a public defender in the state of Minnesota).”

Holton Dimick continued with a multi-point rebuttal to many of Moriarty’s excuses, denials, and explanations regarding her actions in the Trooper Londregan case.

“As Moriarty inevitably pivots her narrative again to avoid confronting her own mistakes, I would like to offer a few distinctions that could help provide moral clarity. Her problem is not her queerness, nor her progressivism, nor even her determination to do exactly what she wants all the time; it is the lack of concern for ethics, justice and honesty as fundamental values that supersede her own personal or political aims.

There is nothing wrong with holding police accountable, but you should not allow your bias against them to impact your charging decisions.

There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with Gov. Walz, but he is not homophobic.

There is nothing wrong with changing your mind about a charging decision, but you should give an honest explanation about why you did so to every audience.

Prosecutors are officers of the court. It’s incumbent upon them to know the laws, follow courtroom procedures and do their best to present cases as accurately and succinctly as possible.”

Holton Dimick concluded with a critical examination of the damage to public safety caused by Moriarty’s lack of candor and willingness to own up to her own errors in the Trooper Londregan case.

“Moriarty’s unethical behavior damages public safety by eroding trust, emboldening violent offenders, and threatening law enforcement’s ability to do their jobs and recruit good officers.

Trooper Londregan, the Cobb family and everyone else involved in this case deserve an apology. More than anything, the citizens of Hennepin County deserve better than this former public defender with an ax to grind.”

Elections do, in fact, have consequences.