The Hennepin County Attorney is doing just what she said she would 

Mary Moriarty didn’t hide the fact that she would be a progressive prosecutor if elected as the Hennepin County Attorney.

Despite examples of similarly minded progressive prosecutors across the country spreading dysfunction and lawlessness, Hennepin County voters did what they all too frequently do and dismissed the evidence staring them in the face. 

In a metro area besieged by violent crime, voters installed Moriarty, a former public defender who championed “criminal justice reform,” to be our chief prosecutor — despite being ousted from her public defender role for creating a hostile workplace, and despite being publicly opposed by 32 senior assistant Hennepin County attorneys from the office she now runs. What could go wrong?

Just one week into her role, Moriarty demonstrated what could go wrong. 

In the middle of the criminal sexual conduct trial of a 35-year-old Honduran man who raped his 14-year-old cousin while visiting during 2019, Moriarty decided to drop the charges because the prosecutor (one of the 32 who opposed her candidacy) had inappropriately lied about a note that was passed to her from a victim advocate. The content of the note was not inappropriate, but the prosecutor’s lie about the note was. It arguably should have resulted in internal discipline, but instead Moriarty took the nuclear option and dropped the charges against the defendant. The judge was obligated to dismiss the case, and the accused rapist walked out of the courtroom a free man that day.

In an Alpha News report, a source with knowledge of the situation reported that there was no legitimate reason to drop the charges, saying:

“The conduct of the county attorney trying the case had nothing to do with the substance of the actual trial. That attorney absolutely could have continued on with the case. If there was concern about her candor to the court, then a supervisor could have acted as co-counsel to ensure the court that there would be truthfulness.”

Moriarty has followed that controversy up by reversing a decision made last year by then-County Attorney Freeman to prosecute two teens as adults for the murder of a Brooklyn Park woman during a home invasion.

Moriarty has said she is simply “following the science,” which she says is conclusive about adolescent brain development. According to Moriarty, the human brain is not fully developed until 25 years old. If this is the new standard, we are in for a long and painful ride.

“And as I said during the campaign, we need to treat kids like kids.”  

Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County Attorney

Based on Moriarty’s decision, the two murderers will be prosecuted in Juvenile Court, spend two years in a rehabilitation program at the Red Wing juvenile prison, and then be released on probation until their 21st birthdays. Their plea deal is contingent upon them testifying against an adult also charged in the case, who supplied them with the firearm used and encouraged them to commit the crime.

Understandably, this doesn’t sit well with the prosecutor who had spent months preparing the case, or with the victim’s family. The prosecutor has voluntarily resigned from the case in protest, and the family and many community members have gone public with their outrage. A recent Star Tribune article details some of this outrage.

“It was choked down our throat without any concern about how we felt. We will not stand for it,” said the victim’s stepfather. The family intends to ask the judge to reject the plea agreement.

“Mary is doing this for the Black boys thinking she’s righting a [historical] wrong. But she’s opening up a can of worms,” said Latonya Reeves, chair of the Minnesota Civilian Public Safety Commission. “This is not what we meant when we said, ‘Save our kids.'”

“We have to stop slapping these kids on the wrist and giving them that thought, that they can go terrorize neighborhoods, even be murderers, and they don’t have to look at nothing but a simple stay over at Red Wing for a year or so,” said Miki Frost, founder of the 8218/Truce Center in St. Paul, an organization working to de-escalate youth disputes. “That’s just not fair to the community.”

No one should be surprised by these decisions made by Moriarty. Voters went to the polls in November with a clear understanding of her intent, if elected. They knowingly chose progressivism over law and order. The rest of us are now forced to accept the consequences.