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Racial Justice and the Minnesota Courts

Jun 5, 2020 | News | 0 comments

It has been a tragic week.  We all have witnessed the real pain, sadness, and anger of so many of our neighbors and fellow Minnesotans.

The fact of racial inequality has been staring us in the face since before the founding of our country. And as we know, racial disparity is particularly acute and apparent here in Minnesota. There have been many Minnesotans of good will and amazingly heroic leaders who have taken steps to change that reality. But I know that I – and all of us together – have not done nearly enough about it. That knowledge has haunted me all week.

In particular, courts are not immune from the legacy of racism that affect so many institutions in our country.
At its best, our court system can and must be a model for how we achieve justice together  – with respect, hearing each other out, decisions based on nothing else but our equal standing as human beings and fellow citizens. And I want you to know that judges and other court employees work hard to deliver justice in Minnesota fairly and impartially and respectfully according to the law. I am committed to do everything in my power every day to make sure that is true for every person who comes before our court.

But I also know that our justice system is imperfect. Too many people of color and indigenous peoples do not have the same access to justice as other Minnesotans. There are disparities in outcomes in our justice system that cannot be readily explained but for the fact of the race of the litigant.

We can put in place institutional rules and processes that are more inclusive and transparent. We can make sure that our legal analysis does not overlook or ignore the reality of race in our society. We can make sure our courts remain committed to not simply procedural justice but true substantive justice.

I am fiercely committed to continuing to work with all of you to change that reality.

– Paul